Monday, December 31, 2012

Still Love My Books

Even though I don't write much on this blog anymore (I want to do better), I look forward to doing this post at the end of every year. In 2012 I read 72 books, which included 8 non-fiction - that's a lot for me. And I kept track of every single book, including my rating and review, on my Goodreads account. I love that website. Was waiting for it all my life. See all my books here. But just in case you don't want to go through all my books, the good and the bad, I'll list some of my favorites here.

Favorites 5 Stars
The Wednesday Wars
The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt - my very favorite that I recommend to everyone!
I Am The Messenger by Marcus Zusak - loved The Book Thief, and this one too, even though it was very different.
He Shall Thunder in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters - #13 in Amelia Peabody series - my fave since book 1 and I recommend it to lovers of the series or of this genre.
A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George - 1st in the Inspector Lynley series. I was very impressed but only those who love British police mysteries will agree.
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett - different than I usually read, and almost ruined at the end, but a fascinating look at a very different society and the things that drive us. Heart of Darkness-esque.
Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey - I was so skeptical and then totally surprised at how great this book was. Quick and easy to read, but very convincing to me. 2013 financial goal: get out of debt!

Notable 4 Stars

James Potter and the Hall of Elders' Crossing (James Potter, #1)James Potter and the Hall of Elder's Crossing by Norman Lippert - great fan fiction but not dependent on the originals- so close to the feel of the Harry Potter series and free to read on the Goodreads app. will be getting to #2 soon.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - a classic that was on my must-read list for 2012. so glad I finally read it, and loved it - but the first third of the book was soooo slow and kept it from 5 stars.
Divergent/Insurgent by Veronica Roth - best YA dystopian I've read since Hunger Games (although I really liked Incarceron and Chaos Walking series too)
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn - a fun, British, historical mystery - exactly my genre. can't wait to read the rest!

To Read in 2013

Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer
I am putting these six book on my must-read list for the year, in addition to whatever I can get to on my Goodreads To-Read list, which I try to keep close to 200 but is currently at 211. These books have either been on my list for a long time, or are popular or award-winning, come highly recommended, or just sound really good to me.

Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

And in addition to these, and in the name of pursuing a well-rounded reading list, I want to read more classic fiction, more non-fiction (specifically church/parenting/self-improvement books) and specifically a book of poetry, and a play.

Have you made a list of to-reads for 2013? What are your top faves that I should add to my list? Any suggestions for poetry or plays? Wish me luck with my goals and I wish you a very happy year of reading too!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Sugar-Free Cookie Extrordinaire

With my new healthy lifestyle, I try to limit my sweets and desserts to one day a week. And then I try not to pig out all day long that day. But after being good for three or four weeks, I was craving some sweets so badly! So I turned to Pinterest and searched for a sugar-free recipe that looked palatable. Now I wasn't expecting miracles, but was hoping for something that didn't just use a sugar substitute. I bought some Stevia and tried to make my own hot chocolate. Yeah, it was nasty. Still need to try it in something else though - I don't want to judge it on that sole experience.

I found this cookie recipe that is not only sugar-free, but also flour, egg-free too. It is mostly bananas, so if you don't like those you should probably skip this recipe. I don't like to eat bananas on their own, but like them in bread, pancakes, etc. I love the oats in this recipe too! I did add a dash of salt and little Stevia to sweeten things up - just a single serving packet. The batter tasted great on it's own, and I wondered if it was even worth baking the cookies. Out of the oven they were okay, but the next day or the day after they were fabulous - just needed a day to meld I guess. I couldn't help but pass this recipe on. I give full credit to Once a Month Mom. You can find the recipe here

The cocoa and oats really satisfied me and kept me out of the real treats that do not help me!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ending 2012 with a Loss (a good one)

This is a hard topic for me to discuss, but I'm on a roll and am hoping for some long-term change so it's time for me to go public. I have steadily been gaining weight since college & our wedding (11 years ago), and I have hit several unhappy milestones that I swore I would never pass. Yet I did. And I just didn't know what could turn me around. Then I heard about a weight-loss challenge that some people in my ward were putting together and I decided to join. That was two months ago and things have gone extremely well.
best bathroom scale Bathroom Scale 

We used this system here, where you earn points for good behaviors like exercising, drinking water, skipping sweets, etc. We skipped the first two weeks of the challenge so we could finish by Christmas Eve. Everyone puts in $10 as a show of participation and the pot gets split between the top points winner and the top weight-loss percentage winner. And I was the points winner! I lost fifteen pounds! I liked that so many of my friends were all doing it together so we could encourage each other, as well as compete. I was actually quite motivated by the competition - more than I would have thought I could be. Once I was in first place after the first week - I didn't want to give it up. It was also a huge help that my husband, Aaron, did the challenge with me. He was so supportive in everything. I normally hate it when he encourages me to go to the gym or to eat less sweets. But since it was part of the competition and he was doing it all too... well, I couldn't have done it without him.

Worst part of the challenge: eating fruits and veggies. I know you are supposed to integrate these into your meals, but I had a hard time with this and I'm not a big salad eater, which is where some people get their veggies. I'm glad it's winter though - I love cauliflower or butternut squash soup! I found myself stuffing down veggies and/or fruit at 8:30 most nights - which is 30 minutes before the no-food limit. I need to do better at this.

Best parts of the challenge: working out at the gym. You get the maximum points for exercising 45 minutes five times a week. I have finally caught the joy of the gym and I still have a long ways to go. I've been doing the bike (so I can read at the same time), walking on the treadmill (but want to work up to running sometime), and the elliptical. That elliptical machine is hard! And I have to do 45 minutes. Man it's good exercise! I look forward to trying some Yoga and Zumba classes soon too. Another great part of the challenge: drinking 64 ounces of water a day. I have come to really enjoy this and it makes me feel a lot better. I love that the challenge is set-up to reward good behavior rather than penalizing you.

I am going to use my winnings to buy some new exercise gear and maybe some running shoes. I am loving the new looseness to my clothes and some subtle changes to my body. We're starting the challenge again in a couple weeks and I'm hoping for at least 15 more pounds of loss. Maybe then I can set some kind of target weight goal. I am amazed at how natural my new behaviors and habits are starting to feel - except the no sweets. But I'm learning about moderation. I'm really looking forward to a new year and a new, healthier lifestyle for me!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pinterest Project 02

It's time for a Pinterest Challenge from Sherry at Young House Love and her pals. I love the inspiration I get from Pinterest, but am often overwhelmed by how many projects I want to try out. I've even stopped pinning new things (mostly) because I don't want to forget about all the great things I've already pinned. You can see all my boards here.
For the past year we have been renting our own little room in a great house that my in-laws are staying in. It is in Northern Arizona and we love it there! I wanted to decorate our room a little, mostly to distract me from the 80s wallpaper. I decided to use some of my favorite Pinterest pins as ideas for some graphic art to liven up our space. I know the pictures aren't great, but in person I am very pleased with the view.


Here are my inspiration pins:
Pinned Image
from mer mag
Pinned Image
I even did up one other print, to greet us as we walk into our room.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wrapping up LDS Fiction

This month has been fun while I read as many novels by LDS authors as I could get my hands on for the Summer Book Trek, hosted by LDS Publishers blog. I just finished my last book last night, and am anxious to get all my reviews listed. Here's my final list:

Freefall by Traci Hunter Abramson - read Aug 9th
Crossed by Ally Condie - read Aug 21st
Austenland by Shannon Hale - read Aug 17th
Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale - brand new & offered on Kindle for $1.99 - read Aug 26th
Twitterpated by Melanie Jacobson - read Aug 28th
Lemon Tart by Josi S. Kilpack - read Aug 23rd
Dead Running by Cami Checketts - read Aug 7th
Michael Vey: the Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans - read Aug 24th

I've  got a lot of reviews to list here. As always, I review every book I read on Goodreads.

Crossed (Matched, #2)

Crossed by Ally Condie

I enjoyed this one a little more than the first, but maybe it was because I read it myself, rather than listening. I always like that better. There was also a lot more action, but you still get to hear all of Cassia's thoughts - and now we get Ky's thoughts also. It starts to explain some of the background, but leaves plenty for the 3rd book. I still love Cassia & Ky's relationship, the pull they feel towards each other, but Xander isn't out of the picture yet. This love triangle has more to tell I think.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

I'd give this book 3.5 stars. It was just the kind of easy-reading book that I like sometimes. Romance, British characters & historic literature, some American humor, and a happy ending. It was clean and good for teenagers. Still plenty of kissing though.

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

3 stars. I read this right on the heels of Austenland, so the same plot device wasn't exactly novel for me. I did like having a heroine that was quite a bit different than the 1st, who was there for different reasons. The whole real mystery and nod to Northanger Abby was great (especially since I just read that one recently) and the happy ending wasn't so bad, since that's how I like them.

Twitterpated by Melanie Jacobson

2 stars. I wanted to like this book as much as I liked the main character, but I just didn't. The plot was cliche but still has some potential. I really felt for Jessie and some of the situations she ended up in. But the main conflict with Ben felt contrived and then wrapped up all too quickly. And despite the fact that Jacobson can obviously write decently, it was the writing that ruined this book for me. I rolled my eyes and practically threw the book down every time a million details of the setting came out. I really don't care about the colors of the walls, and the couch, and the accent pillows. Or the plates & flatware, the table runner, and on and on! Not to mention the clothes, which I don't mind quite as much, but are still a huge departure from the actual story. It was so distracting! (I was not surprised when I read Jacobson's bio & found out she was in the fashion industry.) The same thing happened with so many details of Jessie's work life. Even though it was a bit more important to the story, we still didn't need so much. But if all of the excess details had been taken out, it would have been a very short book.

Lds fiction is hard to write as any kind of decent literature. I hope Jacobson keeps it up and I'll try another of hers in a few more books

Lemon Tart by Josi Kilpack

3 stars. I didn't expect a lot from this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. It certainly fits in with its genre of culinary mysteries - the recipes look delicious and I will be trying them soon. And the mystery has a few more plot twists than I expected. It ended with the expected confrontation with the killer, but I still liked it. The heroine was new to me, so she doesn't drive me crazy yet and I'm interested in getting to know her. I'll pick up a few more of these.

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25Michael Vey: the Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

4 stars. This book is like X-men for teenagers. The premise wasn't super original, but still very fun and exciting. The hero is very likable and his band of merry men totally grows on you. The action was great, without being violent or gory at all. There was no langauge or sex - totally clean for pre-teens but adults will enjoy it too. I think I'll have my son read it in about a year when he turns 9. (The characters are 15 so it's a little old for him.) I really liked it, and sometimes Richard Paul Evans is a little hokey for me, so I was very pleased with Michael Vey. I will look for the next in the series soon.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Funnest Back to School Party Ever!

We were thrilled to receive some more fun party materials from Mom Select - this time from Gutzy Gear! I was a little worried that the kids wouldn't be thrilled with the product - they are velcro patches that attach to your gear, particularly with covers that go around your kid's backpack straps. No sewing required! Why can't scout uniforms be so easy? But I don't know why I was worried - they were a huge hit! They all tore into the packages of the straps and were thrilled to get them on their own backpacks. I helped my 4 year old a bit, but otherwise all my 1st and 3rd grade guests had no problems with them. And there was such a great assortment of patches that we didn't even have fighting over them. That's always a plus at a party.

We played a couple games that were including in our packet  - bingo, and a super fun scavenger hunt game. I taped up pictures of the Gutzy patches all over the house and the kids had to race to find them, in a specific order. There were two sets, one for each team. They really loved it and ran around crazy for about ten minutes. We will have to play that game again sometime. Here are my two teams:

Here's a video with a little taste of the scavenger hunt and some up close footage of the kids' choices.


What else can you ask of a party? Yummy snacks, fun games, good company, and awesome Gutzy Gear products made for our funnest back to school party ever! We will be keeping our eyes open for these patches in stores. Our set incuded basic patches, but they have super hero ones that my boys will love (in their stockings at Christmas). The patches retail for $6 for a two-pack and are available online or at Kmart, Walmart, or Toys R Us.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Book Trek

I finished my first two books for the Summer Book Trek, hosted by LDS Publisher blog. I altered my list a bit for what I was able to quickly get my hands on, and here's the update:

Freefall by Traci Hunter Abramson - read Aug 9th
Crossed by Ally Condie - currently reading
Austenland by Shannon Hale (found out Palace of Stone doesn't even come out for a few weeks)
Twitterpated by Melanie Jacobson (The List sounds more interested but a friend loaned me this one)
Lemon Tart by Josi S. Kilpack (my friend loaned me this one too)
Dead Running by Cami Checketts - read Aug 7th

The exciting news is that I won a prize before I even finished my first book. I look forward to receiving Dispensation in the mail. It is an anthology of short stories by LDS authors, compiled and edited by Angela Hallstrom. And in choosing my prize, I found Dead Running, which I finished quickly. More points! Maybe I'll win another prize. Here are my reviews:

Dead Running by Cami Checketts
Dead Running
Goodreads Summary:
Cassidy Christensen is running.
Running from the mercenaries who killed her parents.
Running from a scheming redhead intent on making her life miserable.
Running from painful memories that sabotage her dreams of happiness.
With two very tempting men competing for her attention, she hopes she’ll finally have someone to run to, but can she trust either of them? When secrets from her past threaten her family, Cassidy decides to stop running and fight for her future.

My review:
I might give this 2.5 stars. It was quick and kind of fun, in a spy mystery/all the bad guys are chasing her kind of way. There was some fun romance and I was a bit inspired by the heroine's drive to train for the St. George marathon. The plot wasn't original and the writing wasn't anything special. I did like the main character, even if I thought her reactions were unrealistic sometimes.

I got this as a 99 cents Kindle download from Amazon, and found it through the blog I am participating in their Summer Book Trek to read books by LDS authors. The church isn't mentioned anywhere in the book, but it was completely free of language and sex. There is just kissing and mentions of violence. Not explicit or gory, or even scary.

Freefall (Saint Squad, #1)Freefall by Traci Ambramson Hunter

Goodreads Summary:
Lieutenant Brent Miller arrived in the Middle East with one objective--get seven hostages out of a hostile country. The plan almost worked. But now he has been left behind--with one of the hostages. It's up to Brent to get Amy Whitmore, a US Senator's daughter, across miles of desert to safety. What he doesn't know is that to survive, he needs her as much as she needs him.

My review:
This book was enjoyable and nostalgic for me. I used to read stuff like this in junior high. The spy thriller/terrorist type of book, with some LDS people thrown in. It is good, clean fun for me. I liked the format of action, romance, action - not too intense, but not boring. I was glad that both of the main characters were LDS, otherwise it gets a too unrealistic to me. This book was neither original, or fabulously written, but I liked it and will read more of the series.

There was no sex or language, and the violence was minimal and completely vague.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Book Challenge

I haven't posted much on this blog in 2012, and much of it has been of the crafty variety. But I still love to read and do quite a bit of it. Despite my not mentioning it here, I always list and give a brief review of every book I read (even the embarassing ones) on Goodreads. You can find my lists there. But it's time for me to bring back some posts about literature, good and bad. Here are some of my favorites from this year:

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
I really liked this book, even though it took just a little bit longer to get into it than most of the fiction I read. It is more serious and made me think more than most of the fluff I read too. And the writing was beautiful, that certainly pulled me in from the beginning. I found myself re-reading entire paragraphs just for the way the words flowed and made me feel. I don't read writing of this caliber nearly often enough.
The first half of the book takes place in Minnesota & Manaus, Brazil, the second half deep in the Amazon rainforest. The characters are imperfect, but compelling. The whole thing is very Heart of Darkness, but somehow lighter without losing the impact.
Cautions: an occasional swear word and mentions of sex (sometimes completely pointless) without details. also some native drug use.

Curse of the Blue Tattoo: Being an Account of the Misadventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman and Fine Lady (Bloody Jack #2) by

Read #1 first, Bloody Jack. That Jacky just charmed me again with her enthusiasm & love for others. I enjoyed reading about her adventures as a fine lady just as much as being a sailor. I was much more heartbroken at the end though, when she moves on. I'm really enjoying this series but am a little worried about them keeping up the high standards as the books keep coming.

Post image for 2012 Summer Book Trek
We've spent a lot of time in Pinetop, AZ this summer, enjoying the fabulous weather, and I've had plenty of time to catch up on books. Not that I really need the encouragement, but I heard about a book reading challenge from my friend Susan's blog. (Hopefully all readers of this blog know that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, sometimes known as Mormons or LDS.) The LDS Publishers blog is hosting a Summer Book Trek to read books by LDS authors in August. They don't have to be about LDS topics or people, just written by an author who is LDS. You can read all about the details by clicking on the button to the right. And apparently they even have prizes, which sounds fun. You can join too! There are plenty of lists of authors and suggestions on their website.

Here's the list of books I'm planning to read in August:

Freefall by Traci Hunter Abramson
Crossed by Ally Condie
Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale
The List by Melanie Jacobson
Lemon Tart by Josi S. Kilpack

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Craft Night: Giant Cross Stitch

I am finally getting around to posting about our craft night, thanks to The Pinterest Challenge, hosted by Sherry from Old House Love and her posse.  I was very inspired by a lot of pins I saw on Pinterest, I listed them in my last post, but here are a couple of my favorites again.



I think this is such a modern, fresh take on the time-old tradition of cross-stitch and it seemed perfect for DIY. I jumped on the computer, made myself a design, and got started. I used Adobe Illustrator, set my artboard to the size of the canvas I planned to use, chose the number 5 (for 5 in my family), and added crosses until my eyes couldn't see straight. I put the number 5 on one layer, in the font I liked, and then made my crosses in a layer on top, matching them to the number below as best I could. I used 3/4 inch crosses. After I chose this project for craft night, I helped my friends design their projects too and generally used the 3/4 inch crosses again. Even with a large canvas, 24" x 36", I found anything larger gave me not enough control over detail. And for some designs, like the chicken below, I used smaller crosses for some detailed area.

Next I spray painted my canvas, although most of my friends used craft paint and a foam brush. I would love to try one over fabric, like a burlap or a small-print flowered muslim or something. It would be harder to mark where the stitches should go, but I did buy a fabric ink pen, with disappearing ink. I'm anxious to try it soon. I would recommend wrapping and stapling the fabric to a canvas, just to keep the structure and make it easier.

After the paint was dry on my canvas, I printed off my design, which necessitated multiple pages taped together sometimes, and attached it to the canvas with some of my washi tape, whose low-tack & removability were perfect for this project. Then I took a needle and drove it down through the paper & the canvas below. The hole remains in the canvas to show you where to stitch. That's where fabric would be a little trickier than the canvas, although that disappearing ink pen must be so much easier on the fingers than stabbing through the canvas with a needle. A thimble helped. I learned a few things on the first row. Don't stab through the middle of the Xs, only the corners. I made that mistake on the first row, but the holes were covered up when I did the stitching. Also, my design ran fairly close to the edge of the canvas, over the wooden supports, which made it pretty hard to put a needle through. You might keep that in mind when creating your design. My friends poster-size canvas had a support right up the middle too - which made it difficult to stitch around, but canvas is flexible and we worked around it.

And then we got to stitching. Some used yarn (for the big canvas), some used embroidery floss, the white one was a thick baking string, and I used a hot pink mason twine, which is nylon and sold at Home Depot. Long needles worked well, although I had to use one with an extra-wide eye to keep my mason twine from unraveling. Which made it quite hard to punch through the canvas. I was getting blisters before I heard about the idea of using rubber gloves. I felt pretty silly wearing my long, yellow dish gloves, but it worked like a charm. You just follow basic cross-stitch principles, tie a knot, come through from the back, and get to work, tying off in the back when you run out of string. You'll have to find better instructions elsewhere.  ;)  It took a few hours to complete, but Netlix helped while the time for me, and my craft group is always happy to use the time to catch up on each other's lives, gossip, and discuss important philosophies. Here are some shots of us working, and a few of the finished projects.

I am so thankful to Pinterest for keeping me appraised of great art and projects, you can follow me here. And I'm glad for Sherry's Pinterest Challenge and for my turn to host craft night for impelling me to actually complete some of the things I pin. My friends' projects turned out so cute too & I'm sure they are livening up their houses by now.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Go Big or Stay Home

I'm hosting craft night at my house this week & have agonized over what to choose for our project. Although our group has worked successfully for over two years, it seems that our tastes are starting to diverge a bit and as is natural, not everyone has the same taste or style. I use Pinterest to keep my project ideas in one place, and even started a board for our group to share with each other (all of us can add pins). Here are a few ideas I would have loved to choose, but I didn't think everyone would like them as much as I do.

Originally I had planned to host craft night a couple weeks ago, and chose oversized cross-stitching for the project, but the date ended up getting changed, and none of my friends seemed too excited about my craft - even though I thought it was awesome! So after thinking long and hard, and searching high and low, I decided to choose ....  mega cross-stitch art! I mean, who can argue with the awesomeness of these pieces?

All these images are of artwork created by Jessica Decker, check out her amazing work! I was tempted to copy her anchor exactly, but decided to go with something else for my first try. I liked the idea of a monogram, and was tempted by this pin.

But the letter C isn't that visually appealing to me, so I finally decided to go with the number 5, for the five people in our family. I used a 11x14 canvas, which I spray painted in a metallic champagne color, and I used hot pink mason twine from Home Depot instead of embroidery thread. It was a bit challenging, because the twine is thick and requires a wide-eyed needle, which was hard to get through the canvas. I was developing some pretty good blisters, depite my thimble use, before I had the idea to wear my yellow dish-washing gloves. I felt pretty silly, but it worked very well! Here are some shots of my project. The first picture is the design I made on the computer.

I finally convinced my sis-in-law to do a giant cross-stitch at craft night too, and I spent an afternoon last week helping her with this design. (She's a chicken nut.)

I hope these project ideas inspire my craft group friends and that they will all take on the project this week. I say, Go Big or Stay Home! Just kidding though - I hope they all come, even if they don't do the mega cross-stitch. Next week I will post some more detailed instructions for anyone who might want to try this, and hopefully I'll have the wisdom of several of my friends' projects behind me too. Wish us luck!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Loveliness

My Mother's Day started off with a delicious, surprise breakfast with fancy food & drinks; my family knows breakfast is my favorite meal! There were gifts, cards, and large Mama hugs. At church my sweet husband tried to divert the kids as much as possible so I could enjoy the nice program, which included two great talks, and some musical tributes to mothers. After a much-needed afternoon nap, I had a little free time before the super delicious Sunday dinner Aaron put together all on his own. He is a fabulous cook but doesn't get the chance to shine as often as he used to. This meal convinced me we should give him more opportunities! It was a lovely Sunday and Mother's Day and I felt the love of my family. I am lucky to be the mother of three handsome young men, who are growing up so fast. I am proud of their accomplishments and love them dearly!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Need Some Happiness

This afternoon I will attend the funeral of a sweet 4 year old boy from my ward. It has been an emotional and unhappy week for me and I didn't even know him well. I can not comprehend what his parents are going through, despite my own having done it. I don't think I have ever seen this boy's mother without a smile on her face, and I don't want to see it gone now. The family has sent out some messages thanking everyone for their love and concern and has talked about temples, eternal families, and Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness for us. It gives me hope.

In case you are in need of a little happiness today too, here is a darling video I ran across this week.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pinterest Challenge 01

I am a big fan of Young House Love, along with half the universe, it seems. This week Sherry is hosting a Pinterest Challenge: take something you have pinned and actually make it, or your own version of it. This should be a monthly challenge for me because I have so many great ideas pinned on my boards but if I never get around to actually making them myself - what's the point?
I love all the DIY jewelry pins and wanted to post about a project I did lately. When it was my turn to host my monthly craft group, I chose painted bead necklaces. I made one for myself, then one for my sister's birthday and one for my neice for Christmas. I loved this for my craft group because everyone could personalize their necklace how they liked: different lengths, different sized beads, different color schemes: monochromatic, ombre, multi-colored.

I was inspired by Kristina Klarin necklaces, which she sold on Big Cartel and then through Anthropologie. She now has her own site, House of Kami. The necklaces are amazing - hand-crafted, original, fabulous pieces and I would buy several if my budget allowed. Colored bead necklaces are no new thing, but I love Klarin's color mixes and how she makes multi-layer pieces. Click on each piece to go to the best source. (As I said, Klarin no longer sells thru Big Cartel and Anthro.)

Pinned Image

Pinned Image

Then I found these other pins to add to my inspiration board, and some of these blogs have tutorials too - not that you need much help to paint and string. Click on each image to go to the original source.

Pinned Image


So for our craft night we used waxed cotton cording and hand-painted all our beads with craft paint and small brushes. Spray-painting also seems to work well, especially if you are going with all one color. I bought lots of sizes of wooden craft beads, up to 3/4" inch. Most of us with longer necklaces just tied them off so they can slip over the head, but if you have a shorter length you would need some kind of clasp - lots to choose from at craft stores. And most of my craft group chose to spray glossy acrylic over the top to protect and add a nice shine. Here are some of the (mostly) finished products.