Category Archives: the start of something

being crafty: reclaimed drop earrings

Okay, I’m obviously a beginner at DIY things. I have things I’d like to make – in theory – jewelry, scarves, clothes, holiday decorations, and whatnot. To make my own jewelry is on my bucket list even. So might as well start somewhere.

My mom left me her jewelry, which meant her mom’s jewelry and her mom’s mom’s jewelry as well. I finally had the nerve to go through it last week. Before my mom passed, she and I went through it together to label important things: her mom’s nursing school ring, a ruby ring with a crack through it that my grandma apparently wore all the time and got knocked in the hand while playing field hockey. There is a lot of costume jewelry, lots of things that are broken or falling apart too.

But then I found a box of random beads. Or at least I thought they were random. Until I started pulling them out and finding their matches. All earrings. Just no hooks. So that’s where this project started.

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here’s the box they were all in, with their counterparts

I’ve never made jewelry before, but bought sterling and gold ball hooks thinking it’d be enough. Nope. Needed new posts because the old ones were corroded and didn’t look right with the new, shiny hooks. And got some tools while I was at it – curved pliers and a cutting tool instead of trying to use my fingers and nails like a cavewoman – to connect the hooks and posts. And somehow this happened:

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my favorites so far

Seriously, these suckers took a couple seconds flat to make once I figured out how to use the pliers. Just thread the ball pin through the bead, curve the other end to start making a loop, trim the extra to finish making the loop, and thread the hook. Beyond easy.

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absolute favorites – the amber colored ones were too beautiful not to make them into earrings

I am so unbelievably happy to give some new life to my grandma’s things and so excited be able to wear them now! At Michael’s, I possibly bought some sparkly things (Swarovski in dusty rose) and light pink glass pearls thinking I could add sparkly bits to my grandma’s beads. But instead, this happened:

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can’t wait to wear these

Oh, and a pair for my mother-in-law who’s a gold girl.

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i was too excited to give them too her and already blew my christmas gift. surprises and me do not mix

So that’s it for now! The time I spent at Michael’s picking out the right hooks and posts was the longest and most challenging part of this project, and even that was simple enough. The actual jewelry making portion took possibly 3 minutes per pair. So I’m definitely hooked with the whole lot of pretty things made in no time flat. Yay!

Tori

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being crafty: nautical wreath

Update! Here’s the final product on our door for the holidays!

in love with the final look and am feeling very martha stewart-y!

in love with the final look and am feeling very martha stewart-y!

For comedic effect, here’s the entirety of the original post:

I have been having a harder time dealing with the loss of my mom than before. I’ve retreated from teaching Zumba and cleared my schedule so that my full-time job is my only obligation. I’d like to start doing things for me. Like writing again (I took a break. Thinking hurt.) or going back to ballroom or ballet (even if it takes a drive into the city). And then, there’s DIY. Yeah, like Pinterest.

Here’s my first try at something crafty, in honor of this girl’s blog entry: a DIY nautical wreath.

First up, the ingredients or materials or whatever the technical term is. Half inch thick sisal rope. I got this one on Amazon. Scratch that. I got this one, then ran out, and needed a second. So two of these. No jute was necessary in the making of the project. Glue gun. A wreath form. Hands of steel. And patience.

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ignore the jute. i was going to use it, but decided to be more plain jane. and add another package of rope. i learned..

Start hot gluing. To get a good foundation, I used dabs of glue at every point the rope hit on the inner circle. Don’t glue down where the rope hits on the outer circle since you’ll end up moving it around.

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the wreath form was covered in plastic. those little pieces are like wood chips. and manipulating them made a mess. coconut tried to eat them all…

After finishing the first time around, I realized something from grade-school math class. The circumference of the inner circle is going to be less than the circumference of the outer circle. So while you have the rope touching all along the inner circle, it will have spaces where the wreath form is exposed on the outer circle. Which is why it was great I didn’t glue it down. Try to get each rope wrap (made that up), perpendicular to the wreath form, because otherwise it starts getting unmanageable. Then to cover those bald spaces, take the rope around a second time.

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round and round… note those little wood chips. those are the suckers coconut kept trying to eat when they hit the floor

Your first pack of rope will run out if you’re anal about covering up the bald spots like me. I wanted this sucker to look substantial and heavy-duty. Of course, you could just buy 100 feet of rope, but that would be harder to manage, as you have to pull the rope through the center of the wreath with every single rope wrap. Have no fear, OCD’ers. The seam of where the two ends meet gets covered with rope.

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that would be the exact rope i bought. you will need two of the 50 foot variety

Take some hot glue to the middle of the rope at the end so it doesn’t look so frayed. But otherwise, it’s no big deal. Start your next hunk of rope right where you left off.

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the blasted end that ended up not being a problem whatsoever

I ended up going around one full time to cover as much as the base as possible, a second time to fill in the bald spots, and a random-rope-wrap-here-and-there third time to give the wreath texture and to make the loops. When you decide you’ve reached your last rope wrap, leave that one a little loose as well as the rope wrap 4-6 inches before. You’ll use these to make knots. Without even cutting the rope, make a knot at your last rope wrap. I actually looked up nautical knots and have no idea if mine was legit. But it seems sturdy. so finish the first knot, make the hanger, then repeat at the rope wrap 6 inches from the end. Have the rope exit the back so you never see it, and then chop off the rope.

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my attempt at knots

I put some hot glue into the knots in hopes they’ll hold better and let it dry for a bit. I’ll be honest, the knots took me a lot longer than they should have, and I redid them several times until deciding they were done. But here is the end result! It’ll go outside once A) I have a wreath hanger and B) it has stopped torrentially raining outside – not because I’m afraid this won’t hold up, but because I’m just cold. I’ll add a photo of it on our door when it’s up!

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voila! yes, that’s currently hanging on a kitchen cabinet. no, it’s not staying there.

Here are some pointers. Really, just things to look out for. Keep an eye on the animals.

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She liked the wire and the rope.

No, for real. These buggers were obsessed. I imagine if you have kids, they can be distracting too.

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she loved the wood chips and the rope. freaking tug-of-war

Last word of advice: protect your hands with a thick hand cream before, during, and after. It’s basically winter in New England, the air is dry, my skin is cracking as is, and the wreath form and rope were a little painful at times. But I think the end result is worth it. Ray and I love anything nautical and like the things in our house to be more modern than not, so I think this foots the bill.

Enjoy!

Tori

good

When I was little, my mom told me to do good before dropping me off for school one day. My dad corrected her that to be grammatically correct, it’s do well. I firmly believe that she meant what she said.

Everyone has some sort of plan upon greeting each day. We all have to do lists, and some of us write them down. Things we have to do for our jobs (prepare for presentation), our houses (do the damn laundry already), and our families (go through photos with Mom, when she was here, of course). These to do lists haunt us and push us. They make us feel accomplished. Sometimes they drive us insane. “There were three things I needed to do today. What was the third? Shoot. Where is that Post-It note?” Not like these are personal examples or anything.

Driving to work this morning, I realized something. The plan for every day can be far more simple. Do good. Not do well, although doing things to the best of your ability at any given time is always, well, good. But rather, do good. That single, solitary goal on each and every day. Do some good.

For all the things you have to do to keep your life in order, do one thing for someone else. That’s my challenge to anyone reading this. Every time I reread this, I’m challenging myself to it too.

Smile at a stranger. Hold the door for an elderly gentleman. Give up your seat for the pregnant woman on the train. Let someone pull their car out in front of you. Be a little more kind to and patient with the waitress bringing you your dinner (she’s serving your family and friends instead of eating with hers).

Help a friend in need. Help a friend period. Really listen when someone opens up to you. Compliment a coworker who worked exceptionally hard on a project. Tell your husband how much you love every little thing about him from his undyed hair to his broken toe, because all you see are his kind eyes and megawatt smile. Tell a friend how you couldn’t live without their silliness or heart. Tell your daughter how proud of her you are for the things that are far more important than her “A” in geometry or the goal she scored at soccer. Tell her you are proud of the person she is on the inside, how appreciative you are for her being such a big help fixing dinner, how inspired you are by how non-judgmental she is with others, and how touched you are by how patient she is with her grandfather who has Alzheimer’s.

Volunteer with any charity of your choosing. Play with and cheer for the athletes at a Special Olympics event. Spend a couple of hours at a food bank. Donate ten bucks to the National Brain Tumor Society. Go walk with Out of the Darkness to raise awareness for suicide prevention.

It doesn’t have to be much. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just do some good.

I have a slightly different take on the ideas of karma and the law of attraction. They say something along the lines of if you do good, good will come back to you. Almost like if you volunteer at a homeless shelter, one day you’ll win the lottery. That’s nonsense.

It’s far more simple than that. If you do good, you feel good. When you help and show kindness to others, you feel good. I’ve told people that I volunteer for Special Olympics for entirely selfish reasons. I help the athletes (okay, I play with them and dance with them while they wait for their events), but it seems to make them smile, and that makes me feel good. The whole process it totally fulfilling. It makes me happy. That’s karma.

Some amazing friends of mine wrote a card for me with a perfect quote on it by James Barrie. “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” That’s karma.

So here’s my challenge. Go do some good. Today or any day. Make it a part of your daily to do list. However little or big, you’ll make a difference and feel a whole lot better about yourself. It’s a win-win.

Thanks for the advice as always, Mom.

Tori

here we go

I finally made a blog. A lot easier than a novel. Maybe people will read it. Maybe people will enjoy it. Maybe not. It’s too soon to tell, but my fingers are crossed.

I considered majoring in journalism, but I chose a career in healthcare like so many in my family had before me. I wrote poetry privately in college and shared it with two people total. A guy friend who also liked poetry and my mom. She said I was a good writer, so I didn’t believe her obviously. My husband knows I like to write and claims I’m good at it, so naturally I didn’t believe him either. He claims my cooking is good yet I often burn dinner, so he’s got a way of putting things in a positive and partial (and he’s just too nice to be true) light.

One day at work, my coworkers and I entertained ourselves by writing fake love letters (well, emails) to one another to spoof a seemingly creepy suitor-flirt’s interest in one lovely lady in our department. From that, they claimed I should write. I thought that was code for that email was funny but I’ve decided to cave to the encouragement.

Look, Mom! I’m writing! This post is going into the Neverland of the internet, and I hope to the high heavens (or nirvana or Elysium) that someone out there likes it. Someone beyond my mom or my husband. Or my coworkers. Because I’m starting to think they’re just being partial too. So here we go…

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one little buddy at a butterfly house on a good day with my mom

Tori