Thursday, December 31, 2009

Why Make a Resolution When you can Set a Goal?

Clearly, if you've noticed in most of the photos I've posted of Pixie Marie, she is not a type A dog. This photo is one of the few I have of her where she is standing and not laying down.
I'd say, type C or D, but clearly not a type A.

Even as a child, I have been goal oriented. I'm certainly more of a type A personality than is my dog.

Yesterday, I asked some questions about goals.

1) What do you look forward to accomplishing in 2010?

In all honesty, I'm not sure. I know I'd like to improve my little business, but I'm really stuck on how to do that. That will require more thinking.

2) Do your anticipated accomplishments need to be major or life changing?

No, they don't.

3) What are your goals and expectations for 2010?

A) I want to have fun and to laugh more.
B) I want to enjoy my life and all the people who cross my path.
C) I want peace in my heart and in my soul.
D) I want to grow closer to God and develop my spiritual life.
E) I want to become a better bead maker so that the creative part of my soul will thrive.
F) I want to become a more kind person.

Wow! I'm thinking that's quite a list, and a different one from last year.

4) Will all of your goals be pleasurable? Do they have to be pleasurable?

Not necessarily, but I do think they are important.

2010 is only hours away now. In parts of the world, it's already 2010. As I close out this blog for 2009, I do so with a sense of hope and accomplishment. I hope that those who read this blog enjoyed it. I hope that you joined with me in my struggles to become a a better bead maker. I hope you stay and watch the new year unfold with me.

If I have brought you a bit of joy, I am glad. If I have brought you a bit of laughter, I am glad.
If you found some inspiration in what I wrote or showed, I'm glad.

Now, it's almost time for the Babe of New Year's to enter the picture. Life is a journey. We are all in it together. I hope that we can help each other as we go.

Welcome 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Anticipation - Looking forward 2010

Happy Aquarium? Huh? What does this have to do with anticipation?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists several meanings for the word anticipation. The one to which I an referring is 1 B: The act of looking forward; especially pleasurable expectation, and I do look forward to 2010 with many pleasurable expectations.

Now, what does this have to do with Happy Aquarium on Facebook? Well, I look forward to achieving a new level tomorrow in Happy Aquarium. Pleasurable? Yes. Important. No, not to anyone other than me.

As we "anticipate" the year, 2010, what do you look forward to accomplishing? Do your anticipated accomplishments need to be major or life changing? What are your goals and expectations for 2010? Will all of your goals and expecations be pleasurable? Do they have to be pleasurable?

Tomorrow I will answer those questions for me. I plan to set new goals I hope to achieve in the year 2010. I also "anticipate" advancing from level 35 to level 36 in Happy Aquarium. Pleasure, yes, a bit. Fun, yes a bit. Hopefully, life will cooperate with me. I look forward to the last day of 2009.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looking Back A Bit to Goals for 2009

As a former special ed teacher, I honestly believe that goals need to be attainable, not just something we reach out to with little to no hope of achieving. It's sort of like loosing weight.

Most of us feel that we need to loose weight. I know I do. I'd like to set a goal of loosing 20 pounds this year. In order to do a reality check on this goal, I have to ask myself a couple of questions.
1) Is it realistic to think I can loose 20 pounds in a year?
2) If so, how am I going to do it?

Last year, about this time, I asked myself what I needed to do to improve my online sales. (Little did I realize, at the time, that the economy would tank.) I set two goals for myself, with one being much more important than the other. My main goal was to improve my photography. Photographing my beads is something I have struggled with since day one.

When I did my reality check, I answered yes to question #1. I then proceeded to develop a plan.
1) I decided to look at my photo set up and, with my dd's help, improve that. (Jenny is a professional photographer. You can visit her Etsy store here.) If she lived in town, I would have just hired her to take the photos for me.
2) Determine which time of day had the best light for me to shoot the beads.
3) Eliminate the glare on the beads.
4) Improve my artificial light.
5) Try to shoot my beads in as much natural light as I could.
6) Improve my photo editing skills.

With Jenny's help, I was able to improve my photo set up. She made me a frame. In the beginning I used white paper as a background. I had read that white was the best background for most beads. Didn't work very well. I eventually went to the garage and found some tiles that were left over from the ceramic floor that was installed in the basement. I also found an old book and a bamboo mat to cover the join in the tiles. I used a light weight piece of white fabric to cover the top of the frame to diffuse the light. I have recently added an old mirror to give my beads a little bit of reflection. Bingo! I now have a respectable photo setup, and the quality of my bead photographs has improved!

I learned that I just don't have enough natural light in my house to shoot my beads. In the winter, it's just too cold to go outside and use the natural light the sun produces!

Since I use Picassa I have limited options when it comes to editing my photos. The good thing is that I honestly can't do any color changes on my beads. If I can, using this program, I don't know how.
I am debating whether I should buy Photoshop Elements. If you use that program, could you give me some feedback? I'd appreciate it.

I think I can give myself an accomplishment on this goal. My bead photos have improved. I'm very proud of that fact.

Goal 2 was taken care of by the Google Data Base. I wanted to improve the names of my beads and bead sets. I have found using the Google Data Base, the best thing you can do to improve your ratings is to spell out exactly what you have in the bead or set and not worry about a fancy name.

This goal was not truly completed, but I did learn from it.

2010 is quickly approaching! Next blog, I plan to look forward.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Etsy Sale - 9 Items to remember 2009

It's late, but I wanted to let you know about the sale I'm having in my Etsy store.

How about this Ancient Heart? The bead is beautiful, and I've used a cord made from wool that I felted. It looks and feels great to wear.

This is one of 9 items I have in my store for sale. If this, or any item in my Etsy store sells, I will add another item for keep the sale number at nine. Have a look and see what you would like. There are some good items on sale. Enjoy the shopping!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's December 27, 2009

Do I look forward or back?
Do I dream of the future
Remember the past?
New Year,
will bring changes,
as did
So, what do I do
for the rest of the year,
Do I look forward
do I search my mind
for the past?
What should I do?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

It's the Day After Christmas, and

Last Count,
and it might have increased,
13 inches of the white stuff!
This was a Christmas to

My bird bath used to be visible!
It's now covered in snow!

This was the winter wonderland we saw on Christmas morning!

All right,
Enough is enough,
I'm now,
officially ready

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009 The Start of the Day

It's now 5:45 AM on Christmas Eve morning. I actually woke up just before 4 AM after going to sleep around midnight.

I looked around the neighborhood when I decided to get up at 5, and my lights were the only ones on. I wish mine were out, but it is a wonderful, quiet time. I'll have to catch a nap a little bit later, I hope. Now, I'm up for the day. Even Pixie, who is now fed and has done her duty outside, is sleeping again. The snow is still falling. I guess we have a lot more to come. Nick is home. Jenny will be home sometime tonight.

I lit the fireplace. It's much warmer in the family room now. Most of the presents are wrapped and ready to be put under the tree. I've hesitated on some because the boxes have food and candy in them. Some are for Jenny's kitties. I think Pixie would take over them if she could. She'd also eat the food. Those presents will be the last under the tree. The luminarias have to be put together. They are our traditional Christmas decorations. We light them after Mass on Christmas Eve to bring the Child of Christmas to our home, and they burn until the wee hours of the morning. Other than cooking the meal for Christmas Eve, the putting together the luminarias is the last chore to be finished. Maybe there won't be a nap today.

Now, I'm off to shower. It's time for the daily ritual to begin. After that, I'm off to torch for a bit. I don't know how long that will last. I seem to have pulled a back muscle. I suspect it was sword fighting with Nick using the Wii. I did beat him in a couple of games though!

Today brings another day of being with my children, and, for that, I am very grateful! I have amazing children! They are adults now, and I love getting to know them as grownups. So, it's time. The Christ Child is coming soon, and we need to be ready for His Birth. This silence allows me to reflect and remember.

May you all be blessed this Christmas season. Merry Christmas to you! Peace, Love and Joy be the blessings you receive on this day of days.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I Know I forgot something....

But What is It?
Ho! Ho! Ho!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Facebook Status for 2009

Isn't this fun?
It's a new application I found on Facebook.
If you want to be my friend on Facebook,
here I am!
See you later,
but the tall kid is home.
Christmas has begun!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Winter Solstice

If you are reading this post on December 21, 2009 at 9:47 AM, you are experiencing the winter solstice. Wikipedia defines the winter solstice here.

The actual solstice only lasts an instant, but on this day there is more darkness than light.

From December 22, 2009, until the Autumnal Equinox, the amount of light in each day will increase in small increments. We are, literally, crossing over from the dark and into the light.

Isn't that wonderful news? Just when it is the darkest, the light is seen on the horizon.

Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Shameless Self Promotion SunDay!

I have these earrings listed in my Etsy store. These earrings are called: Evening Out. I liked these so much, I even made a pair of these earrings for myself. Wow! I love them!

I call these earrings "Drama Queen." They are really full of passion and drama! My photos honestly don't do them justice! They are fun and lovely to wear.

I made these earrings using beads I found in a necklace sold in the thrift store. I call them Granny's Coral Pods. Love 'em! Love 'em! Love 'em!

These earrings have a simple, to the point name: Handmade Asymmetrical Lampwork Chalcedony Earrings. Simple but elegant! Go ahead. Check out my store! There's a lot more there!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Around the House

Pixie has a wonderful place where she can eat. Her food bowls are elevated. She has a small rug under her food. Her bowls are glass and very sturdy.


Here are her food and water bowls.

Here's where she eats. Go figure. I still love her!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Look What Came in the Mail!

And it was wrapped so beautifully! Look at that bracelet! Isn't it gorgeous!!!!

Thanks, Erin, from Treasures Found-Inspiration is Everywhere. Erin is hosting challenges in her blog. The rules are simple. Using the theme, make a piece of jewelry.

The first challenge was:
Seek inspiration in the hardware store.
The second challenge was:
Your Grandma's jewelry box.
(That's the one where I became the winner of the random drawing.)
The current challenge is:
Your sewing box. I'm still working on my entry for that one.

These challenges have been a growth experience for me. Thank you, Erin, not only for hosting these challenges, but for helping me to see that Inspiration is everywhere. I'll never look at a hardware store, a jewelry box, or my sewing box again in the same way. You've helped me grow in ways I never would have thought I could grow.

Anyway, back to my prize. The packaging was beautiful! I almost hated to open the box and the ribbon. Gorgeous!

Erin also included a copy of Bead Star. She's featured in this magazine. I can hardly wait to take the time to read this magazine completely! Again, thank you Erin!

I plan to wear this a lot, not only during the holiday season, but well into the New Year! I am so thrilled!!! Can you tell?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hoffman Family Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas!
This year I decided that things needed to change.
I always want to keep up with
family and friends,
but writing Christmas cards
just got to be too much and too expensive.

This year,
this will be the
Hoffman Family Christmas Letter!

No, this isn't Spike. ------------->
I had to put Spike to sleep at the end of August.
That nearly broke my heart.
He was a good dog,
but he had lived way past his life expectancy.
His last week of life was not a happy one for him. We both knew it was time. Jenny was able to come home to be with us during Spike's final hours. I still miss him a lot, but I have a new love in my life.
Her name is Pixie Marie, and she's a wonderful, loving greyhound!
She's a retired racer, and that girl loves to run!
I am so blessed to have been given the gift of this beautiful dog!
She's filled a spot in my heart that needed to be filled!
I am most grateful for that.
If we are "friends" on Facebook, you can see all the photos I have of her there. Most of the photos of Pixie are of her laying down.
She truly is a 45 mph couch potato!

Life continues to be good for us. Nick gave me a wonderful birthday present this year! Jenny and I were gifted by Nick with tickets to a Joshua Raiden concert in the Twin Cities. This is Jenny with Josh Raiden.--------->
We had such a good time that night! I only wish Nick had been able to be there, too!

Speaking of Jenny, she has a new job! She's working for an insurance company in the Twin Cities as a phone center specialist.
She's doing well, and keeping busy! I can't keep up with either Jenny or Nick!
They will both be home for Christmas!
I can hardly wait!

Nick turned 30 this year!
That is so hard to believe.
I still remember that little boy who only wanted a
big gun for his birthday!
Nick still lives in Chicago and loves it there.
He's moved into a new apartment. While being sick with the Swine Flu, the ceiling in his bathroom collapsed.
That's a very long story, and I won't go into it. He's in a much better apartment now not far from where his old apartment was located.

That was just a brief summary of the year.
Of course many other things happened.
I attended the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee again.
That was so much fun!
I hope to go again in 2010.
Both of the kids were able to be home for my birthday this year.
We had fun.

This --------------------->
was part of my birthday celebration.
I had a Margarita at the restaurant.

I was also wearing my
new shoes! ------------------>

Overall, it was a good year!
So, to all of our family and friends,
We wish you peace, love and joy!
Merry Christmas
and a
Happy New Year!
Mallory, Jenny, Nick, and Pixie Marie

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


It's been so long since I've been in a Christmas mood. Usually, if I get the tree up by Christmas Eve, I consider myself doing really well. Usually, it's just toss the tree up, add a few lights, and that's it.

This year, I made a conscious decision to not make this a "Bah Humbug Christmas." It's not even the 24th, and I've started decorating in ways I haven't decorated in years. Let me take you on a quick tour of what I've done--so far. There's more to come later.

First, this is the table we use ---------------------->
mostly for holidays. I used a table cloth that was given to us by a friend, and to that table cloth, I added some glittery placemats and simple read napkins. This really looks pretty.

This is the kitchen table. ----------------------->
The table cloth is really some fleece I bought at Hobby Lobby. The base of the centerpiece is a small rug to which I added a candle holder and my favorite snow globe. Do you see Jennifer Jangles ornament? It's hanging from the candle on the table.

This is in my entry way. Isn't it lovely? It's the reason for the season.

This is my favorite all year round decoration!
Doesn't she have beautiful eyes?

More snow globes surround the Holy Family. Notice my all year round decoration hasn't moved?

These lights are in the bay window. A friend made those and gave them to our family! They are such a treasure!

These trees were also made by friends. We have such wonderful friends! I love these trees, and they look spectacular lit up!

Do you like my snowman? That's the last of the big decorations. Like Oprah says, "The rest is in the details." More to come later, but for now,
we are on our way to Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This, That, and the Other

Only 10 Shopping days left until Xmas!!!!

Useful Etsy Tools:

I'm not sure if you know about these sites, but I seem to visit them several times a week.


aka Etsy Treasure Hunt, give you information about treasuries in which you might be featured, gift guides in which you might be featured, and, very importantly, a treasury clock to let you know how long it will be before a treasury opens up in the main treasury on Etsy or Treasury West.

Heartomatic aka Shop Hearts, will tell you how many hearts your shop has, as well as, how many hearts each item in your store has. It will also tell you how many views each item has had. I find it a very valuable tool in planning what to list. It also makes me more aware of what the consumer is searching for in my store.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Laughter Yoga

Ever heard of it? This site explains laughter yoga and the benefits of laughter to the health of the human being.

Did you know that when we laugh our blood pressure goes down? Did you know that our bodies cannot tell the difference between fake and real laughter?

Here's a short explanation of an actual laughter yoga session with a link to a video of an actual session of laughter yoga.

Follow the directions for a laughter yoga session of your own. Remember, laughter is good for your soul!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Anyone hungry? Food Beads for the soul!

Huh? Food beads for the soul? I don't think so. I've just been working on simple sculptural beads to refine some skills, such as detail, when making beads. Take a peek and see what you think.

Sorry for the dog hair. That does happen from time to time. An ice cream sundae anyone?

Would you like some key lime pie?

A hot dog, anyone?

Blueberry pie? It was the first piece of the pie.

More food beads to follow later. Right now, I'm off to get a snack. I'm hungry!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

New Project

Take one, very thin, slightly bald, but very loving dog.

Add to that- the very cold start of the winter season.

What do you have?
One very cold dog who loves and needs to be covered up to keep warm--even during the day.

So what do you do when you can't be there to cover her up and keep her warm? You google: patterns dog sweaters.
I found a wonderful site called greyhound crafts. You can find it here. There are lots and lots of goodies there for greyhounds. I found a sweater pattern. I printed out the copy that I am allowed to print out. I bought the yarn. Now, I'm ready to start.

Yes, it's going to be pink. I also bought a pattern for a snood to be worn around her neck and over her ears. I think the sweater will be my priority though. She's one cute, but cold, little hound.
Stay tuned. I'll be showing progress soon, I hope!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Special Needs and other beads

When I feel the need to improve my lampworking skills, I challenge myself with sculptural beads. This challenge gives me a much greater appreciation for lampwork artists, who, on a regular basis, make sculptural beads. Some of these artists include, Lauren of MayBeads on Etsy, Paula of PaulaNC on Etsy, and Marcy of Studio Marcy on Etsy, too.

This week, I am working sculpturally to challenge myself. As a result, I have come to appreciate the need for attention to detail and preparation. (I have forgotten the twisties and stringers that need to be pulled ahead of time.) I have also come to appreciate the need for a good shape so that the form of the bead resembles the animal, food, tree, item, etc. that I am attempting to make into glass.

These first 3 beads are my "special needs" beads. From top to bottom, there is the critter who is not sure of what he is. I was trying for a hippo, but I think his parentage is in question. He seems to be a combination of a hippo and a pig. I apologize to both types of animal. The next animal is supposed to be an owl, but it reminds me of a vulture getting ready to fly. Last, but not least, is my true special needs critter. This little seal has one flipper bigger than the other, and the larger flipper is malformed. I am hoping that the children in the Beads of Courage program will enjoy these little special needs critters.

Here are my successes for the day. I think you'll recognize the blue bird, the turtle, and my absolute favorite, the little hedgehog. I was thinking of getting Pixie a real hedgehog for Xmas, but, in reality, I think she'll have to settle for the little bead.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Big Storm

The storm hit night before last. These pictures were taken yesterday as the storm began and raged through Minnesota in varying degrees of intensity.

The storm began to intensify at night. I used the night setting on my camera. This setting highlighted the snow as it fell.

At 7 AM yesterday morning, the snow was still falling. I think we had over 8 inches of snow by morning.

This is my front door. I have to shovel tomorrow so I can open it again..

The snow finally quit falling. The winds were still blowing, but, for the most part, the storm was over.