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A Happy Memaw

Some women complain about getting older, however I am enjoying life as a middle-aged woman. One benefit for me is that I get to be a ‘Memaw’ to my granddaughters and that is one of the greatest joys in my life. I’m fortunate enough to have two beautiful granddaughters and two more grandchildren on the way. 🙂 The oldest one, Chloe, is 6 years old and the younger one, Missy, is 20 months. My daughter is due to deliver another little girl in July and my daughter-in-law, Tiff, is expecting in November.  I’m looking forward to having 4 grandchildren.

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 Memaw, Chloe & Missy

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There are many wonderful things about having grandchildren. To begin with, when they are babies I get to snuggle them for hours on end. The feeling is somehow different than when my own children were babies. The simple pleasure of holding your child’s offspring is indescribable. Plus, since you’re not the parent there are no other pressing things to do so you can simply enjoy the moment.

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 Snuggle time with Missy

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As they begin to speak it is wonderful to hear them say my name. I was actually going to go with the standard name “Grandma”, but as Chloe began to talk it became “Memaw” and in hindsight I actually like that name better. Missy is just beginning to talk and my name comes out more like “Mawwww”, or more often it’s “uh, oh, Mawwww”. No matter what it sounds like, just knowing that they are calling me brings a smile to my face.

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It is also an absolute blast when they are able to do some of my favorite activities along with me. As you may know, I love making jewelry and Chloe has sat with me at my desk many times and made her own jewelry designs. She is actually pretty dang good at it. 🙂 I’ll be anxious for the others to join us when they are old enough.

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 One of Chloe’s latest designs

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I also enjoy hiking and have been able to do that with both of them.  In the beginning they go along for the ride, but now Chloe is to the point that she is a genuine little hiker.  One side benefit to hiking with a baby on your back is that it certainly adds to the amount of calories you burn.

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 Chloe when she was too young to hike

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 Chloe on a family hike this past summer.

(Missy is on Anna’s back instead of mine. 🙂

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Another one of my favorite activities is cycling.  Yesterday I had the pleasure of riding bicycles with Chloe for the first time. She recently learned how to ride without training wheels and we spent part of the afternoon riding around our church parking lot. I think there are many joint rides in our future.

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 Chloe with NO training wheels–YIPPEE!

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Another activity I often do with Chloe is to cook and bake.  She likes nothing more than to help make some cookies or cupcakes.  I guarantee that when she helps me there are plenty of sprinkles and other decorations on whatever we make.  (OK, I also confess that we sometimes lick out the bowl — What happens at Memaw’s stays at Memaw’s. 🙂 )

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 She LOVES to decorate cupcakes!

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Since I also love playing the piano I’m just now getting them warmed up to that as well.  Chloe can play a wee bit and Missy just enjoys plunking away on the keys.  When Missy is here she often walks to the piano and pats the bench, which means she wants me to sit down and hold her on my lap so she can play a ‘tune’.  I think she may be hooked.

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 Future Pianist

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Yes, getting older means gray hair, wrinkles and more aches and pains, but the benefits definitely outweigh the physical signs of “maturity”. Besides becoming a grandparent I have become more comfortable with who I am, and I am now courageous enough (or maybe crazy enough) to do things I wouldn’t have done when I was younger. You can get away with some pretty eccentric things as you get older.  (like wearing a hat with feathers. 🙂 )

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One ‘crazy’ Memaw

***Photography courtesy of “Poppop”

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Rainy morning in the Florida Keys

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We are on vacation in the Florida Keys and we have had gorgeous weather—until this morning when I awoke to the sound of rain.  I looked out the window and saw that it was ‘raining cats and dogs’.  I decided to make the best of things and get some jewelry made.  (Yes, I bring jewelry along on vacation. 🙂 )

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My morning work tray

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As I sat and worked on some jewelry, I just kept looking out the window toward the bay and watching the heavy rain continue.  After working a while I got up and looked out the window behind me and I got a beautiful surprise.  There was a white and dark pink orchid growing on a tree only about 10 feet from me.  Back in Pennsylvania I would not see an orchid growing on a tree.

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You can see the raindrops dripping off the stem.

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Apparently in Florida, you can attach certain orchids to a tree that is in the perfect location…not too much direct sunlight, but not all shade either.  If the orchid receives indirect sunlight and some fertilizer it will flourish.  I sure wish we could do that in Pennsylvania!!!

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Stunningly beautiful!!!!

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Later in the day the sun came out and I was able to appreciate the orchid close up.  Seeing the beauty of that orchid at a time I was not expecting it brought a smile to my face. Orchids are a thing of beauty and I’m thrilled that I was given the gift of seeing one today.  I am very thankful for my rainy day surprise.

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“Road Work”

What do you picture when you hear the words ‘road work’? Workers in bright yellow vests, orange cones, traffic delays….? Well, for me it has an entirely different meaning.

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I design and make jewelry for a living. Anyone who knows me is aware that I not only do it as a job, but thoroughly enjoy it and am very passionate about it. I have a work bench at home where I make most of the jewelry, but I almost always have several trays ready with projects to take with me wherever I may go.

 

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My husband and I have taken many long trips in the car and for me, many of those hours in the car have been spent with a tray in my lap and tools in my hands. I have been able to make things I needed for upcoming shows as well as fill orders from my Etsy shop.  I’ve even come up with new designs during a few of the trips.

 

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( I often find time to work in the hotel rooms too. )

“Road work” is a win-win situation for me. Making jewelry makes the time pass more quickly, which REALLY helps on the extremely long rides. It also enables me to stay caught up on work that needs to get done while we travel. Luckily my car has a very smooth ride and I’m able to do many different things.

 

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I’m notorious for working in the car, no matter how short the trip may be. My son has actually joked that if get one of the cars that drives itself sometime in the future, I could even make jewelry when I’m the driver instead of the passenger.

So, I may not wear a bright yellow vest, but I do a LOT of “road work”.

PS—I’ve also done this quite often on airplanes. Hmmmm…..maybe I should start a jewelry-making ‘mile high club’.

 

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Music has always had a profound effect on me. Certain songs make me want to get up and dance, white other songs are sure to bring me to tears. Music seems to have the ability to reach inside of me and stir my deepest emotions. Depending on what I’m listening to it can be invigorating or calming, healing or even sometimes painful. I’ve often said that music is the “key to my soul”.

 

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In the past few years piano music is the one type of music that can touch me in especially profound ways. At times when I have found myself in a low place it has been the only kind of music that I could ‘feel’ in my soul. It has allowed me to tap into emotions that I had pushed down and tried to ignore. The music has given me an avenue to work through some of those feelings.  It has provided a real sense of peace and of healing at times I needed it the most.

 

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One song in particular can move me like no other—Crisofori’s Dream by David Lanz. The minute that song begins to play my heart comes alive. That song takes me through a myriad of emotions. It begins with a very sad feeling, but there are moments of joy as well. There are several ups and downs during the course of the song and my heart soars and falls along with those changes. One section always makes me feel optimistic and give me a sense that things will be ‘ok’. For me the song always ends with a feeling of peace. The last part of the song is the sad melody, but it somehow gives me a sense of acceptance and contentment.

 

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I’ve listened to that song countless times, but I am now able to feel it in a new way – playing it myself.  I played piano when I was younger, but had given away my piano some years ago. I recently made the decision to play again and bought a beautiful piano. Of course, the first song I learned to play was Cristofori’s Dream. The minute I began to play the opening notes I felt such a sense of ………. I don’t even know what word to use…contentment, peace, passion, healing, excitement, joy and even grief. I knew that I would be spending a great deal of time at my piano.

 

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As I worked on learning the entire song I didn’t really feel the usual emotions due to concentrating so hard on getting notes and inflections right, but as I conquered more and more of the music, I began to experience it in an emotional way. One evening I was playing and at one section I found myself beginning to weep.  Now as I play it, I am able to enjoy it and ‘feel’ the music.

 

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I’ve since learned several more beautiful and moving songs, but this one will always have a special place in my heart. When I just want to sit down and ‘feel’ the music this will most likely be the song I play.

If you want to ‘experience’ this song, here is a link to it being played by David Lanz. Cristofori’s Dream

 

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An evening at my piano with a glass of wine…….wonderful!

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Playing Cristofori’s Dream

***I was listening to Pandora as I wrote this and just as I was typing the last sentence, guess what song began to play………and yes, it still brings me to tears.  

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Make My Day

Home Show 2013

Home Show 2013

 

As a woman who designs and makes jewelry, I not only enjoy the actual process of creating the pieces, but LOVE hearing that women have enjoyed wearing it.  The message at the bottom of my receipt is “I hope that you enjoy wearing this jewelry as much as I enjoyed designing and making it”. I get great satisfaction when I receive positive feedback from women who buy my jewelry.

 

I've received many compliments on this design.

I’ve received many compliments on this design.

 

One way that I receive this kind of response is at shows. I have many repeat customers walk into my booth and tell me that they were hoping I would be there. They talk about pieces that they have bought in previous years and the compliments they get when wearing them.  They are always excited to see my new designs.

 

My booth at the Apple Harvest Festival

My booth at the Apple Harvest Festival

 

I also receive feedback from my online Etsy Shop customers . After making a purchase they are able to rate the product and write a comment. Reading the comments on my feedback page  always brings a smile to my face. I love hearing that my customers are pleased with the quality of the jewelry and that it brings them some enjoyment.

 

Holiday Home Show 2013

Holiday Home Show 2013

 

All artisans long to hear this kind of feedback from their customers, so when you buy something that is handcrafted, be sure to let the artist know how much you like it. It will make their day 🙂

To read some of my reviews, click HERE

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 Sulphur Mountain Banff Canada

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The line between courage and craziness can sometimes be blurry. As a 52-year old grandma, I viewed myself as somewhat courageous because I’m still very active—I enjoy many outdoor activities including road cycling and backpacking. My perspective on that, however, has come into question.

 

My husband and I were in Banff, Canada, in the Canadian Rockies, for a business trip and we decided to make good use of the free time before the organized events began. The first day we rode mountain bikes along two fairly easy trails, but then decided to attempt a third more difficult trail. I quickly began to question our choice as it wasn’t a typical mountain bike trail, but had steep banks that had been filled in with loose rocks/gravel because the dirt had been washed away. There were many times as I was slip-sliding my way up a hill or inching my way down another that I was doing some serious praying. (i.e. “Please let me survive this.”) After several hours we did make it back to the hotel in one piece albeit with very tired legs and arms (from holding on so tight to the handlebars.)

 

 

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 Me before the trail got rocky  (thus the smile)

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The next day took my questioning to a higher level. We decided to hike Sulphur Mountain, which is a fairly aggressive four mile alpine hike to the summit. I think under normal conditions we would have been OK, but the trail had a lot more snow than we expected. The trail started out as dirt and mud with little patches of snow , but as we climbed there were more and more sections that were snow covered and slippery. We both found ourselves slipping every once in a while, but then as we neared the top, I made one very poor choice in my footing. I was on a very snowy stretch, but there was a narrow strip of dirt along the edge of the trail and I decided to walk on the dirt since it was less slippery than the snow/ice. Unfortunately, as I set my foot on the dirt, it gave way. I instantly found myself on my back, sliding down the side of the mountain — I mean SLIDING at a fast rate of speed. Please understand that this is the kind of thing I’ve only seen in scary movies, but suddenly I was living it and I was TERRIFIED!

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 Me before the fall (again, smiling before disaster)

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As I slid, I frantically grabbed at any branch, root or plant I flew past. At one point I caught the branch of a pine tree but was moving so fast that I couldn’t keep my grip and began to pick up speed. Just as I lost hope of being able to stop myself I saw a tree in my path and braced for the impact. Luckily, I caught the tree with one of my thighs and finally came to a stop with my legs straddling the tree and my arms wrapped around, holding on for dear life. I breathed a sigh of relief as I could tell that nothing was broken, but that there were lot of cuts and bruises. My husband had started to slide down to try and help me, but its was so steep and slippery that he lost control too. He managed to stop quite a bit above me and we began to talk and try to figure out what to do next.  If we tried to climb back up to the trail by ourselves the risk of beginning to slide again was a very real possibility.

 

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 Trail before it got more snowy and scary

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Just then, some ‘rescuers’ came upon us. There were 3 strapping, young men coming up the trail behind us and my husband called out to them to ask for help. They carefully supported each other and climbed down to help us back up to the trail. Once I was safely back on the trail, I realized that the only way to get out of this mess was to keep climbing and finish the last mile of the hike so that we could ride the gondola down.  (Yes, we could have ridden the gondola to the top, but where’s the fun in that?)  Trying to hike back down under such slippery conditions would have been WAY more dangerous than continuing to climb. After another mile or so of hiking through snow with my shaky legs and stinging cuts we finally reached the top.

 

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At the top—shaky, but smiling

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Back at the hotel, as I got my wounds cleaned and tried to assess whether I needed stitches, I began to ponder the question of whether I’m courageous or crazy. I realized how lucky I was and felt grateful for several things. First, I was very thankful that I didn’t break any bones and that I somehow escaped with just scrapes on the back of my arms, larger cuts on my legs and bruises in all kinds of places.  I was also grateful that I had packed mostly slacks and long sleeved shirts for the rest of the week since my arms and legs were NOT very pretty. I was, of course, also thankful that my hands escaped unharmed so I could keep making jewelry. 🙂

 

So…here’s the question…..is a 52-year old Grandma that does somewhat risky things like this courageous or crazy? …. And, even if she’s crazy—– should she stop? I kinda think that crazy isn’t always a bad thing. 🙂

 

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Gondola ride down Sulphur Mountain

 

20140517_121807View of trail near the top from Gondola

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PS—Believe it or not, I climbed back on a mountain bike a few days later, but I was VERY nervous and extremely cautious—-basically a ‘chicken’.  I guess I’m going to stay ‘crazy’, but maybe a bit more cautious than before.

 

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WORKING 9 – 5

Some of my jewelry designs have been working very hard from 9 to 5.  These pieces not only look pretty and help women to express their own unique style, but they perform a much-needed task.  They help women do their job and look beautiful while doing it. These designs actually get women in the door.  What kind of jewelry can do all of this?—-a unique and handcrafted necklace lanyard.

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Celtic Knot and Byzantine Lanyard

Lanyards are beautiful, but are also very practical. You can wear your lanyard at work and when you step out of the office, you un-clip the ID badge and you have a beautiful necklace and an eye glass or sun glasses holder if need be! Then, back at the office you clip your badge right back on and you’re ready to go back to work.

The number of lanyards I’ve sold has been unbelievable.  I’ve sold lanyards with gems, pearls, butterflies, hearts and various other focal pieces.  Some have been very colorful and others more subtle.  I’ve had several women request slight changes to a particular lanyard to make it perfect for them.  I’ve had one design in particular that has been extremely popular—my Celtic Knot Lanyard.  It’s a fairly simple design, is somewhat classic and since it is all silver and it goes with almost every outfit.  I’ve added many variations on this design, but the original one has outsold all other lanyards.

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Celtic Knot Lanyard

I’m happy that my line of necklace lanyards has been selling well and I also like knowing that my necklace lanyards might possibly make a woman feel a bit more beautiful as she works 9-5.

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Peace Sign Lanyard

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Tree of Life Lanyard

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Lacy Byzantine Lanyard in Antique Silver

Click HERE to see my entire line of lanyard necklaces.

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