Friday, April 14, 2017

Thrift Store Jewelry Fix, 101: Simple Fixes for Used Jewelry

Thrift stores are a great way to get unique and inexpensive jewelry. But sometimes, the jewelry isn't quite right. Maybe it is broken, maybe it's missing a piece, maybe it isn't functional, or maybe it is just not snazzy enough...

Fix One: The Case of the Lackluster Charm Bracelet

I love charm bracelets. They are my favorite pieces of jewelry because the playful charms tell a story about the person who wears them. I have a charm bracelet that once belonged to my grandmother that I absolutely love. But with that bracelet, I sometimes fear wearing it because of the sentimental value behind it. But I found another charm bracelet at the thrift store that I am far less fearful to wear. The only problem is the bracelet as purchased at the thrift store is a bit bare of charms. 

Only four sad little charms. This is an easy fix though, as most craft and bead stores have silver plated charms that will easily add whimsy and character to a charm bracelet. 

With the right supplies a boring bracelet can easily be transformed. 
Supplies needed:
  • A fairly bare charm bracelet
  • Cute charms
  • Jewelry pliers

Use the pliers to pull apart the little 'o' ring on top of the charm. Arrange the charms on the bracelet however you want. Some people like simple bracelets with only a few charms and some prefer cluttered bracelets. I'm all about the cluttered bracelets. 

This fix doesn't have to be used for just charm bracelets. Maybe you have a necklace that is a little bland, or earrings with not enough bling. Craft stores offer a world of baubles to spruce up the boring piece of jewelry. 

Fix Two: The Case of the Missing Pin Backs

I have a couple of pins that I purchased from the thrift store that can no longer be worn, because they don't have the actual pin back used to clip the pin to clothing. 

What you need:
  • Scissors
  • jewelry pliers
  • Your pin-backless pins
  • Head pins

Head pins are often used to put beads on, but they are so malleable while still being sturdy enough, so this is why they are a good fix for pin backs. With help from the pliers, wrap the head pin around one side of the pin back frame on the back of the pin. The other side goes into the hook to close the pin. Head pins are thin enough that you can use scissors to cut it shorter if the length of the head pin is longer then the length of the pin. 

 Voila, your pins are wearable again.

Fix Three: The Case of the Uncomfortable Clip on Earrings

Clip on earrings are great if you don't have pierced ears and want to adorn you ears with some pizzazz, but if you have pierced ears, clip on earrings are an uncomfortable alternative to real earrings. I dislike the pressure of the clip on earrings on my ears. But transforming clip on earrings into normal earrings is an easy fix!

What you need:
  • Earring backs
  • Jewelry pliers
  • 'O' connectors
  • Your clip on earrings off choice

First, you need to take your earring charm off the clip on earring post. This is easy to do by using your pliers to pull apart the connector on the clip on earring. Now your charm is free! Use the connector 'O' to connect the earring back with the earring charm. Now your dowdy clip on earrings are transformed to sophisticated earrings...or at least your earrings have become more wearable if not more sophisticated.

Fix Four: The Case of the Broken Pin

With older, used jewelry, it is common for things to fall apart. Luckily, with a little glue, a once broken piece of jewelry is as good as new! The E600 glue is a good, sturdy glue to use although there are plenty of glues to choose from.

These are just a few simple methods to spruce up used jewelry. Easy fixes for used jewelry opens up a whole new world of possibilities when at the thrift store searching the jewelry section. Next time you are at the thrift store and see earrings or a pin that you would love if only......this that or the other....don't let that hold you back!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Charley Harper Dress

I made a new dress recently and it is definitely a dress that is prepared for spring!

The fabric is knit fabric which makes it easy to put on without zippers or the such. The print on the fabric reminds me of Charley Harper illustrations of birds.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lady Bigfoot

Lady Bigfoot, classy wild woman.

This is lady bigfoot. She lives in the woods with the other members of the bigfoot community. She makes dresses out of butterfly wings and ferns. She uses wildberries as lipstick. She washes her hair with fresh river water and crushed wildflower petals.

Sometimes Lady Bigfoot sees hikers in the woods. She is fascinated by hikers. She falls a little bit in love with every hiker she sees. She follows them and observes them so she can go back home and make up songs about them. She sits around the fire with her bigfoot friends and sings the songs about the hikers and strums on the instruments only bigfeet know how to make or play.

Sometimes the hikers feel her presence though. They feel like someone or something is following them. Lady Bigfoot tries to dash behind trees before the hikers see her when she senses they are going to turn around. But sometimes they catch glimpses of her.

Lady Bigfoot is kind and beautiful. She is creative and smart and determined. But the hikers go back to the human communities and tell stories of mountain monsters roaming the woods. They say they saw a horrid hairy beast and it was stalking them, waiting to kill. They say it had evil in its eyes.

Lady Bigfoot is gentle though. She saves bunnies from hunter's traps. She rescues birds with broken wings. The woodland animals follow her and know she will keep them safe. But the humans run away, back to civilization where they are safe from nothing anymore.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A Short Guide to Pen Paling

Pen Paling can be a very rewarding, calming and educational hobby. It can also bring you closer to friends and loved ones. There is something special about a hand written letter. I feel closer to the people I hand write letters to opposed to just communicate through texts or emails. There is something more intimate about the art of hand writing letters and mailing them the old fashioned way with a stamp!

Because of my experiences pen paling, I have both a collection of cards sent to me and a collection of blank cards ready to be filled up by me and sent out.

Here are some beautiful cards I have received over the years. This is just the tip of the iceberg of my collection, but these are definitely some favorites.

Here are some blank cards ready to be filled with letters:

I like going to independent card shops or stationary boutiques to find some of my cards, but here is an insiders tip: look for cards, stationary and postcards at your local thrift store. You can find some real gems!

If you want to have your own adventure with pen paling, here is a simple guide.

Step One: The first step to pen paling is deciding who your pen pal should be. A pen pal can be a friend who shares your enthusiasm for snail mail. I have had friend pen pals both across a couple of states and within my own city. It is always a thrill to receive something in the mail no matter how far the letter came. But if none of your friends are interested in the diminishing art of old fashioned letter writing, there are other ways to find pen pals! Here are a couple of internet resources:
  • League of Extroindainry Penpals: An online pen pal club where you can find your very own pen pal!
  • Postcrossing: Postcrossing doesn't give you a single pen pal that you correspond with, instead, every time you request an address, you get a different person to write to! You also never know who is going to write to you. It is a fun way to collect postcards from around the world and to connect with people you otherwise would have never encountered. Another great thing about postcrossing is if you feel you do not have the time to commit to a full time pen pal,  you can instead the noncommittal nature of postcrossing pen pals. 
  • PenPal World: When I was more active in pen paling, I found my two awesome pen pals from PenPal World. One of my pen pals was from the Netherlands and one was from Australia. I have since fell out of contact with them, but while I was writing to them, I formed friendships and learned a lot. It was always exciting to find a letter from another country waiting in my mail box. 
  • Post Pals: I have never tried this, but it is on my life 'to do' list. It is a charity that organizes people to write letters to sick children in order to bring added joy to their lives. With this, you would not be getting any responses, but you would know your letter was helping to make someone else feel special. 
As with any online way of connecting with other people, use common sense and don't give your inheritance to a potential pen pal claiming to be a prince.

Step Two: Make sure you have all the proper supplies needed for pen paling.

You will need:
  • An awesome card that you feel will the recipient will connect with. When I was deep into my pen paling hobby, I loved pursuing the card sections of any shop. Sometimes, I'd see a card that would call out a name and I would have to buy it for that person.
  • A high quality writing pen. I am very opinionated about what pen I decide to use.
  • Stamps. If you are sending your letter internationally, you'll need different postage stamps than within the states.
  • Envelope. Unless you are sending a postcard.
Step Three: Set up the right environment to write. In this world of hustle bustle, it is sometimes beneficial to set up an environment that is conducive to focusing on the world of your thoughts. Everyone has their own individual way of doing this. For me, I like to start with picking the right music. Not all music works for contemplative activities such as letter writing. One musician that I recommend is Josephine Foster:

Her music is like modern old' timey music. I love it! It really is great for setting the letter writing mood. Other musicians that set the mood for letter writing are:
  • Iron and Wine
  • The Boswell Sisters
  • Great Lake Swimmers
  • Billie Holiday
Besides music, all I usually need is a mug of tea and a dependable writing surface.

Step Four: Write! Sometimes it can be hard to start a letter, but "Hello" is always a good place to start. If you are having a difficult time figuring out what to say, here are some topics.

  • Write about something strange or interesting you encountered recently. For me, I fall back on bus stories or animal stories. I can tell about the time a man started screaming at another man on the bus, or I can tell about the time I saw a beaver crossing the road in Seattle.
  • Write about a book or movie or other piece of pop culture your experienced recently.
  • Write about something you experienced that made you happy. It is always good to spread cheer.
  • Ask them about there favorite: movie, book, tv show, band, animal, experience from childhood, place to visit, food to eat. 
  • Tell them about your favorite: movie, book, tv show, band, animal, experience from childhood, place to visit, food to eat.
  • Tell a joke.
  • Write about your passions and hobbies.
Step Five: Send your letter. Address the envelope, lick the back, stick on a stamp and drop into the mail box. 

Step Six: Eagerly await a response! However, one thing with pen paling is that you also have to be prepared to not get a response. Someone might be an avid letter writer one day, but then their life becomes more busy and chaotic, and the letters may start to dwindle. Although getting mail is always super exciting, part of the joy is the process itself.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Barn Animals, Friends to Those that Ask

When I was little, I would sometimes go to a farm on top of a hill. There were pigs there, pushing their nose against the mud, looking for treats. From the hill top, you could see the sea glittering in the distance. The farm smelled like hay and manure and salt and brine. I remember going there once in preschool. We walked down a path to get to the farm. Next to the path was a red creek winding down the hill. My friend told me it was blood. I was little and believed her, although it wasn't the color of blood, it was more the organy color of clay and sediment. The same friend taught me about sour grass that day. Sour grass is long yellow flowers that you can chew on the bottom of to get a sweet sour taste. Sometimes I think all of this was really just a dream.

I went to a farm here in Washington recently with my family. We saw all the barn animals which was the best part. Animals always make a day better.

It was cold on the day that we were at the farm. The Ducks stayed still to huddle in the warmth of their feathers. They kept their heads slouched low and sometimes chattered a low quack. Probably they were talking to each other saying things like "Oh Myrtle, the chill in the air isn't good for my ducky bones." Or, "Rover, lets leave it all behind and fly south to the tropics where we can perch atop tall fruit trees with the parrots."

There were two pigs, one brown and one black and white, both with coarse fur and friendly demeanor's. They trotted around their pins grunting lightly and looking at every human who loomed over them with a glimmer in their piggy eyes. They probably had ancestors that found truffles in forests, a noble profession for a pig. But no less noble then making people smile, and even better, making people think about the sentience of a pig.

I love donkeys. They might be one of my spirit animals along with otters and cormorants. I can imagine having a long lasting friendship with a donkey. 

Sheep are friendly and funny creatures. My friend and I befriended one named Bob when we were in high school. I don't know what this sheep's name was.

 Cows are stoic and docile creatures, often accused of low intelligence when it is easy to see by looking in their eyes that despite their gentleness, they've got wit. They understand a sort of wisdom that far surpasses that of humans. They understand things about the grass and the sky and the smell of the air that we will never understand.

Gentle, playful and charismatic barn animals... they are friends to those that ask for their friendship and neutral to those who shy away. 

Monday, March 27, 2017


This is Owlberta.

Likes: Buttercups, daydreaming, perching in trees.
Dislikes: Her constant internal battle between her love of all living creatures and her hunger for fresh mice.
Favorite day of the week: Wednesday
Favorite time of the day: Three minutes after midnight
Secret Talent: Perfect pitch
Dream for the future: Traveling to Finland to see the aurora borealis
Favorite Book: Anne of Green Gables
Perfect Day: Soaring though the stars with the breeze and the black sky.
Best Friend: Albearta, the bear.
Personal Quote: Life is a hoot!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Movie Weather

Even though it is officially spring (Hurrah!), Seattle isn't quite done with the cold and the rain. Bursts of sunshine and blue skies are happening more frequently, but most of the time it still feels like winter. The tree branches are still mostly bare, the dips in the pavement are full of rain water and the sky is gray. So while I eagerly await the true spring glory of sunshine and flowers, I will try to appreciate the stormy weather for for one reason: it is the perfect weather for staying in the cozy warmth of indoors watching movies. I've been on a marathon of movie watching! Here are a few movies I have seen lately that I recommend.
  • Short Cuts: Short Cuts is a movie directed by Robert Altman based on Raymond Carver short stories. Robert Altman directed an eerie, surrealist film I absolutely loved called 3 Women. After watching 3 Women, I was intrigued to watch more by him, but the second film I saw of his called The Player I wasn't too interested in, and afterward stopped seeking out his work. Short Cuts reminds me a bit of both movies. Short Cuts and The Player felt like they existed in the same world and that the characters of Short Cuts could potentially walk past characters from The Player in the grocery store. 3 Women shared a world more with films like Muholland Drive or maybe the characters from 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle.' But there were little surprises of eeriness, or carefully disguised surrealist undertones in Short Cuts. Raymond Carver, who wrote the short stories the movie was based on, use to live in the same small town I lived in (not at the same time), so I am automatically interested in him because of this shared connection. I remember reading a short story by Raymond Carver that took place in Arcata and it talked about a mail man there. It reminded me of the time I spent in Arcata at the post office and how there was one postal worker who had poetry taped at the front counter where she always worked. The poetry was by my college poetry teacher. 

  • Blithe Spirit: This movie was a comedy about a couple who enlists the services of a psychic as a lark, being unbelievers themselves. But the psychic is legitimate in her talents and summons forth the ghost of the husbands deceased wife. The comedy has elements of slapstick and silliness, while still be clever. The movie is based on a Noel Coward play, and the rich and witty dialogue definitely has more the flair of a play than a movie. It still translates well in the form of a film, as all of the main actors were great! This was a short and fun movie to watch. Also, the eccentric psychic had a great sense of style and was overall a hoot!
  • Don't Look Now: I don't know what it is about the seventies, but there have been so many amazing movies to come out of that decade, including 'Don't Look Now.' This movie was based on a story by Daphne Du Maurier , writer of 'Rebecca' (another great movie by Hitchcock and also a fantastic book!). The story seems at first like that of a couple trying to figure out their new normal after the tragic death of their young daughter. But soon the story becomes eerie, otherworldly and down right scary. This movie is a 'thinking person's horror film.' It has elements of horror to scare the most seasoned scary movie goer while still being contemplative and intelligent in the way it portrays characters dealing with loss.
  • Paris, Texas: This movie is the story of a man estranged from his family seeking a sort of redemption for failures of his past. It is a road movie, a movie about pasts veiled in mystery, a movie about the love parents have for their children and a movie about forgiveness. I can say the movie is about a man seeking to reunite with her family, but the movie itself is so much more powerful than that sentence can portray. 
  • Stranger than Paradise: Another road movie! This time about two friends and a cousin visiting from Hungary. One thing about this movie is that the two main male characters looked like they could have been brothers. They looked so similar and it made me wonder why they would hire to men that look so similar. Whenever movies have people that look super similar, I always find it a bit odd. This movie was a bleak but interesting glimpse into the lives and relationships of the three main characters. 

Movie marathon is almost to an end as the sunny days approach. But there is still some time to squeeze in a good movie or two. What are favorite rainy day movies?