Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pearl Redo

I was recently asked to make a new piece of jewelry out of a children's length pearl bracelet.  The pearls belonged to my customer's mother and she wanted to pass them on to her grown granddaughter. One thing I didn't want to do is add in pearls or beads that hadn't belonged to her mother.  I decided to add sterling silver chain and make the bracelet into a necklace. I think it's the perfect combination of a classic look with a modern twist.

Here is the bracelet before.....

 And After......

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school for my kids. Gone are the days of walking them to school or the bus stop. Gone are the days of projects made out of pipe cleaners and dry pasta. Gone are the days of Show and Tell. Oh, how time marches on. One thing I will not give up though is first day of school pictures! So here they are.........

 Matt going into 8th grade

Alison going into 10th grade

I'm sure you are both going to have a great year!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Vintage bracelet

I just finished restringing this gorgeous vintage bracelet. 

It belonged to my customer's mother.  It has the most beautiful clasp. I love working on these vintage pieces.  I can't help but wonder....Was it a gift from an adoring spouse? Did she wear it to a neighbor's Christmas party? What color was the gown she wore it with?  I love that my customer honors her mother by wearing this special piece and has it repaired and strengthened so that she can wear it for many more years. And possibly pass it on to her daughter one day.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Last Days of Summer

Our dog Abby LOVES to swim. There is nothing that makes her happier.  I know, I'm her mom! Summer is quickly coming to a close. The pool temp is going down a few degrees every day. Abby doesn't care though, she is ready to jump right in.  Here she is getting a few last laps in before fall....

Love her!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Paper Banners

I have been on a paper banner kick this week.  I really do love paper.  I don't know what it is about paper....the feel, the beauty, the usefulness, the history.  I've never been a writer but have always loved to use paper for it's decorative abilities.  One year in the 90's I made dozens of decorative paper mache mirrors using handmade papers.  I've made scrapbooks,cards, and paper bag books (those were fun!) Now I'm on to banners!! Here are two that I made this weekend.

I'm sure there will be many more to come :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer Fun

This summer I decided to enjoy jewelry making just for the fun of it.  No pressure. Just enjoyment.  I ended up making many more pieces than I would of if I had pressured myself.  I made jewelry for friends just to brighten their day.  I enjoyed seeing their faces when they received an unexpected gift.  I even ended up having some for my Etsy shop and a local store in our town.  Here are a few pictures of what I made this summer:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hummingbird Heaven

 We have a covered deck on the back of our house.  It is one of our favorite places to spend our free time.  The deck is one of the first places the kids look if they can't find me!  We hung a hummingbird feeder on the back deck this summer and it has brought us so much joy.  The hummingbirds found it within a day or two.  First two adults came and then two babies! They feed all day long on the sugary water we have prepared for them.  We've read that they need this sweet substance to give them energy to fly around and eat bugs (actually my husband did the reading and I'm just acting like I did). I didn't know that these amazing birds eat bugs but I am so glad that they do!

Every time the hummingbirds come to our feeder I feel like we are receiving a special treat from Mother Nature.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Neil and I went to the Cornwall-on-Hudson Riverfest this past weekend. I really enjoy living in a town near the Hudson River.  There are still times when I look at the river and I'm awestruck.  Besides the beauty of the river it's also a cool place to have a festival and kick back and listen to some music.

I grew up listening to the West Point Band with my grandparents.  They loved the band and would often have the band members over for dinner( and I'm sure grandpa would meet them for a beer in the local bar).  For those of you who don't know, during the summer the West Point band plays at Trophy Point on Sunday afternoons.  My grandparents would go to the base about 3 hours early so they could get a good parking spot.  The Hudson River is the backdrop to the bandstand.  It is really beautiful. 

The Hellcats were always my favorite ensemble with the Jazz Knights a close second.  Well, the West Point Band has a new ensemble.....The West Point Steel Drum Band! and they played at the Riverfest.  So much fun!!  They played everything from traditional steel drum music to Stevie Wonder and Lady GaGa.  If you are ever in the Hudson Valley check out the West Point Band. It's as American as apple pie!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cricut Word Collage Project

I'm so excited! I just finished my first project with my Cricut Word Collage Cartridge.  I should say my first successful project.  My first try was a learning process.  I had to learn from my mistakes and move on.  Here is the finished project...........

It's in an 8x10 frame with a paper rosette at the bottom.  I will be doing a tutorial on paper rosettes soon.  I think it would be great to decorate the walls of a sewing room.  Don't ask me why I chose this theme.  I don't even sew!!  It was a fun project though and I hope to be using my Word Collage Cartridge a whole lot more.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

dealing with loss

Working in a nursing home gives one the unique opportunity to see people enjoy the milestones in life that only a few ever attain..... 60th anniversaries,  95th birthdays, and four generations spending time together.  It's a joy and a privilege to be a part of.

There are times though that are not so joyous.  I'm not talking about an individuals own illnesses, although those can be heart breaking enough.  I'm talking about when someone has lived so long that they have to experience their children and grandchildren becoming ill and passing away.  When you are in your 90's you don't expect to live longer than your children who are in their 70's and from what I have seen you don't want to.  I think it is some of the deepest sadness I have ever seen.

I am certainly not an expert on the subject but these are some of my suggestions for when an elderly person in a nursing home is losing a loved one, whether it be a spouse, child, grandchild, or best friend.

Keep the person informed, within reason.  I have seen people become so angry and hurt when they think they are not being told the truth about a difficult situation.  They haven't lived this long without going through difficulties in life.  I find that they are usually tougher than you think. 

If their loved one is in the hospital make arrangements to have the elderly person visit them if at all possible.  Of course that's if they want to.  If you can't transport them yourself hire an ambulette.

If their loved one passes away make arrangements to have the person attend the funeral if they want to.  They need to have closure too.

Lastly, let the loved one who is left behind guide the grieving process when you visit them.  If they want to talk about the one they've lost let them.  Maybe bring in some photos to look at.  Tell funny stories about the person.  Reminisce.  It's part of the healing process.

I have also seen people not want to talk about the situation.  Not want to visit.  Not want to be informed.  That's okay too.  There is no "right way" to deal with loss or a difficult situation.  It's as individualized as the people who are involved.  I think the most important part is giving the person the chance to make their own choices about how to handle the situation if they are able.

Okay, I'm getting off of my soapbox. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A killer Hike

The kids and I went on a killer hike this weekend. Okay, it wasn't killer for the kids.  Just me.  It was really a killer when the kids RAN up the hills and I was trying to just catch my breath!

Anyway, enough whining, we saw a lot of cool wildlife.....

 we had to scramble up and down some massive boulders....

but when we got to the top the view was worth it, even though it was hazy

the kids took a little rest here

The best part was the monument at the top of the mountain....

It was very fitting being that it was Memorial Day weekend.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Decoupaged beads

A few weekends ago I went to a bead show and bought some really fun beads that I hadn't seen before.  They were wooden beads that had been decoupaged.  They had every kind of theme and color scheme imaginable and it was very hard to come to a decision about what to buy.  This is what I finally chose......

When I got home I realized that I had bought mostly black backgrounds when summer is just starting.  I don't know what I was thinking.  Anyway, here is a necklace I made using the bead with the feather....

I love the jewel tones and I had a lot of fun making it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sand Pail List

In the June 2012 issue of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine there is an article about making a Sand Pail List.  Similar to a Bucket List, it's a list of things you would like to do this summer.  A Bucket List for my life is way too overwhelming for me to think about but I can handle coming up with a few ideas for summer. So here they are.....

Michelle's Sand Pail List

1. Go to a West Point Concert
2. Visit Boscobel
3. Visit Storm King Art Center
4. Go Peach Picking
5. Eat lots of Corn on the Cob
6. Go bike riding at least once
7. Make homemade ice cream
8. Go Kayaking 
9. Pick a new trail to hike
10. Go to Wildwood, NJ 

I think that's a pretty good start.  What's on you Sand Pail List?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

wrap bracelet

I love these wrap bracelets that I saw on pinterest.
Image courtesy of Pinterest

I decided to try making one and this is how it turned out...........

I love it!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Banana Cream Pie

The other day my mom was coming over to go shopping with me.  It is very rare that I am one of those people that says "Oh, let me just whip up a banana cream pie!" But that's exactly what I did and I must admit it was deeelicious.  After a hard day of shopping it was the perfect treat to come home to with a hot cup of tea.

You will find the recipe here at  It would make a wonderful dessert for Easter.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A look back at March

Wow, I can't believe it's April already.  I thought I would take a look back at March. 

Alison turned 15!! It seems like just yesterday that she was a baby in my arms. Now she's a beautiful, smart, stylish, silly teenager.

We spent the day at the Vanderbilt mansion during a crazy warm March day with my sister and her family.

Neil and I hiked up Storm King Mountain. Yeah us!!

Our super cute grandson Joey turned 3!

Is that face to die for or what?!

Joey with AJ and Ali

Silly faces :)

Overall it was a really nice month with lots of nice memories made.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Storm King Mountain

Two weeks ago Neil and I climbed Storm King Mountain.  Abby came along too.  Now this may seem like no big deal to you.  "Lots of people hike!" you may say.  This was a big deal to us because this was the most physically challenging feat that Neil has completed since being diagnosed and treated for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, Congestive Heart Failure and having a hip replacement.  He was VERY determined to make it to the top.  The mountain is 1,340 feet high.  It was a beautiful sunny Sunday at 67 degrees.  As we were hiking up we passed some people coming down.  We asked how it was up ahead.  They said that it was icy in a few spots but to have a nice day.  Being that it was sunny and 67 degrees we thought "How bad could the ice be?"  It was AWFUL and TREACHEROUS! There were huge patches of ice that we had to crawl around.  Every time we made it past an icy spot we thought that has to be the end of it.......but then there would be another one! The dog fell but was unharmed and a real trooper.

The view at the top of the mountain was totally worth it! We could see South toward NYC and North toward Albany.

It took us a total of 5 1/2 hours.  I thought it would only take us 3 hours so I only grabbed a granola bar for each of us ( I shared mine with Abby) and a water bottle for each. Not very smart, I know.   We were famished by the time we got home.  I was really proud of Neil.  He is a Taurus and Italian which makes him stubborn.  Sometimes that makes me crazy but today I was really thankful for it.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Grandpa's Chili

My Grandpa Chesley would have been 93 this past January.  He passed away in 2007 from lung cancer.  He was a wonderful man who loved his country, told great jokes and had a million stories from a career spent in the Army.  He always made me feel like he had my back.

 This picture was taken six months before he passed away.  It was the last weekend I got to spend with him. My nose is so red because we were drinking port wine, you can see the bottle over my shoulder.  It's funny, even though I was in my thirties here I still found it odd to be having a glass of wine with my grandpa. He told a million stories and jokes that weekend.  We had such a good time.

A typical joke:  

One day a man was sitting on a park bench.  Next to him was a kid who had a mohawk dyed all different colors.  The man kept staring at the kid.  Finally the kid turned to the man and said " Why are you staring at me?"  The man replied "I had sex with a parrot once and I'm trying to figure out if you're my son?" 

The thing about his jokes and stories is that he could tell one after another without ever taking a break.  They were endless.

Grandpa was a cook in the army and everything he ever made for me was great.  Once when I went to dinner at his house he said that we were having salmon loaf.  I thought Eeew!  I was so wrong.  It was delicious!!

Here is his recipe for chili. He called it:

Put a smile on his face chili
1 pound ground beef (80% is best)
1 cup chopped onion
 3/4 cup chopped green pepper
1 1 pound can diced tomatoes
1 1 pound can dark red kidney beans (drained)
1 8 ounce can tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons chili powder
1 bay leaf

1. Cook meat, onion, and green pepper in skillet until meat is lightly browned and vegetables are tender.

2. Stir in all remaining ingredients.

3. Cover and simmer for one hour. Remove bay leaf.

Note: Stir chili with a large spoon lightly while simmering. VOILA!

I love that I have this recipe on a card that he wrote out in his own writing.  Miss you Grandpa!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fun with glue and paint

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

 Ever since seeing this project on Pinterest ( which is an awesome place for inspiration), I have been wanting to try it.  So out came the paint, magazine pages, modge podge and canvas. 

This was a multi-generational project. My mom, my daughter and I got down to business. ( My husband thinks we were making a mess but he doesn't know it was really art! Men!)

It was a really fun project because we didn't have to be perfect.


After gluing down the pieces of magazine we reverse stenciled on top of it with paint.  I love how they came out so different from one another.

Mine before:

Mine after:

 Ali's before:

Ali's after:
I love how Alison thought to use black paint. She's so hip! Although she totally cheated by not covering the whole canvas with magazine pages.

Mom's before:

Mom's after:

I would highly recommend this project for any age group.  It would be fun for a girl scout project or church group.  Anyone can do it :)