Starting anew is always a good thing! Here is Vol. 1 of "Artful Living on the Bluff" for you to enjoy. While I am not contributing new material to this blog, please feel free to look around and then visit me at the new and (hopefully) improved "Artful Living on the Bluff" blog at

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A New Way to Organize my Beads

For quite a while now I have been trying to find a way to organize my beads so that they are out where I can see them and easy to use in projects. During my last studio re-do, I hung small plastic storage baggies from wire shower curtain hooks which were hung from the pine shelving unit in my closet studio space.

This was OK but I was not completely satisfied with it for several reasons: 1) Some of the bags were smaller than others and got lost in the jumble and 2) because of the size of most of the bags, I still had to dump all of the contents of a particular bag out even if I just wanted one bead. In addition to this, I have a large drawer in my work bench which holds 9 plastic cases - the kind everyone has somewhere in their studio space; white plastic, 18 compartments or so with a hinged lid.

These storage cases are far from ideal as it's sometimes impossible to get small items out of them without some sort of scoop or something, you can't ever just dump out the items in one compartment without dumping everything and dust, lint and other little undesirable elements seem to end up in the bottom of them (*YUK!*). Also, I am finding that I have some of the same beads in two places - in a little compartment in the drawer AND in a baggie on the hook. There have been times I have wanted to use a particular bead in a project and thought I didn't have enough when in actuality I did, they just weren't stored together in the same place!

So, I have come up with a solution (I hope)!! The beads will be hung in strands in plain sight and will be easily removed if I need only one bead or the whole strand for a project. Here's what I'm doing:
1) I take a skein of cotton string, not too lightweight since it will need to carry the weight of vintage glass beads, and not too heavy since the beads need to be strung on a double thickness of it.
2) Cut a length roughly 18" long (since my finished strands need to be 9" or less in length), fold it in half and knot the ends together making a loop of string.

3) Cut a 5" length of nylon fishing line string it through the loop end and bring the neds of the nylon string together to form a make-shift needle. String beads onto the doubled fishing line and then onto the cotton string until you have roughly 3/4" left or until you have strung all of the beads of a particular type.
 4) Hang the loop onto a wire shower ring and hang from a hook. You now have strings of beads from which you can slip a few or a bunch depending on how many you need for a particular project. Here are a few shots of some of the strands I have finished:
So, I hope some of you might like this storage idea for your studio space. Do you have a great storage solution that works well for you? Share them in the comment space below :)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Impulse buys and Real Estate

In a post from yesterday I told you about buying a Celtic harp at a resale store last week. It was an impulse buy but I'm certainly NOT unhappy that I bought it. I love it and I think it's just cool as all get-out! Most of the time impulse buys are not a good thing - despite the fact that, for most of us, an impulse buy is a $1 candy bar at the check-out; it's not a $45,000 house in need of massive repair!

This past weekend my husband and I got a wild hair and went looking at properties closer to downtown. We would like to be closer to the places we enjoy frequenting so we can do the "green" and "healthy" thing and walk. We found a listing for a house in a historic section of Dubuque - built in the 1880's, huge (2600+ sq/ft is huge to us, anyway), on a hill overlooking the city with the Mississippi in the distance, BIG yard, over 1000 square feet of enclosed porch alone - for $45,000. $45,000??? We just had to go see it!

This house needed MASSIVE repairs but the second we walked into the backyard we could see ourselves living there. We got really excited about it! Wow! $45,000 minus the money the city had available for rehab of older historic homes and some incentives for buying in certain neighborhoods - we could do this! We had redone our last house - refinished wood floors, ran new wiring, dry-walled, painted - heck, Dan had even taken out a 12 ft section of wall!

We schemed and planned - concerts in the backyard, art retreats on the beautiful porches, solar panels on the roof, lots of room for guests and family to stay, a view of the river. ...Cool...

So I called the realtor on Monday to set up a showing and, guess what?? The damn thing had sold and the closing had taken place that morning! "Well... sh**..." was my first reaction. Gone? To someone else? But we were going to have concerts and parties with tiki torches and wine and twinkle lights and everything!! How could you sell "our" house to someone else?? Can you guess what my next reaction was??

Pure relief.
(**insert big sigh here**)

Thank goodness someone else had bought that house. Otherwise, we would have - we would have made our offer of $35,000, they would have countered it with $36,000 (like they did for the actual buyer) and we would have bought it. Then , maybe, if we were really diligent and worked at it every day and, somehow, managed to come up with the money, in 10 years, possibly, we would have a showplace. A big, huge, massive carbon footprint showplace with twinkle lights and tiki torches. All I can say is "Whew! That was close!" and bring on the $1 candy bars!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Working on a custom order - Yay!! Here's a little "in progress" peak:

Shopping Resale and Celtic Harps

One week ago today my mom and I were resale store shopping. Next to our yearly trek to Florida to visit Mickey Mouse and friends, it's my absolute favorite kind of trip and we go pretty regularly. I took my camera along thinking I would take photos of all the cool stuff we got and promptly forgot to take pictures after our first stop. So, here are some shots I took at the Bethesda Thrift Store in Baraboo, WI. It was the first time I had ever been there as it's pretty new. I didn't buy much but it seems like a promising place to add to the regular route.
There was an entire wall of goodie bags! Typically, I am a sucker for bags of misc stuff but resisted the urge. There were all kinds of little treasures in these and most of the bags were $1 or less.

I totally loved this mid-century chair but we don't have room for it in our house.
No room for this fantastic dresser, either! Dang it!

As always, there are just some items you can find racks and racks full of - like rollerblades and glassware.

Sometimes there's a gem to be unearthed.

Or two...

I love the graphic art on the covers of these Reader's Digest condensed books! During the 60's and 70's the covers were pretty cool. They wanted $1.49 for these but I passed them up because they will sometimes make an appearance on the "FREE" table at my local thrift store. 

I did make some really fabulous buys - like a celtic folk harp! Yes, I bought a HARP!! At a resale store!! Talk about your impulse buys! Usually it's a York Peppermint Patty or Reese's Peanut Butter Cup! Trying to learn how to play it but don't count on any video performances anytime soon - :)  Here's a picture of it from the manufacturer's website ( - isn't she pretty??

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

FIRE STARTER - Beaded Goddess Pendant Necklace

Finally! A new listing! Let me introduce FIRE STARTER! This bead embroidered Goddess pendant was actually started a couple of years ago. She was intended to have been part of a series of Female Archetype pendants I was working on for a gallery show. Somehow, she never got finished and became a dreaded UFO (UnFinished Object) in my studio. Since I have recently become COMPLETELY infatuated with the color orange, she simply had to come out from hiding and make her fiery debut! The inspiration for this piece came from the fantastic vintage filigree earring - I'm not sure if the metallic flecks are embedded in the glass cab or just a backing but that cab ROCKS!! What a terrible thing that earrings come in pairs and I have another one of these in my stash. (*yay!*) She measures just over 4 1/2" tall and is suspended from a reclaimed, gold plated rope chain necklace (18" long). Click on the pictures to get a better look or you can find her in my Etsy shop here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

GRANDMA'S ATTIC Inspiration Kit Give-away for February

It's time for another monthly give-away! Here is another inspiration kit full of vintage goodies. This kit is called "Grandma's Attic" and includes everything in the photos. To win, just leave a comment anywhere on my blog during February and you will be entered. The more comments, the better your chances so visit often and comment away!!


Good Luck!!

Mountains out of Mole-hills

Here is my quote for the year:

"Having the ability to make mountains out of mole-hills does not make you a landscape artist."
- Cindy Caraway

Yep, that's mine. I wrote it this morning. I'm thinking of sending it into Hallmark to see if they would like to use it on a greeting card or something. Maybe they would like to start a new line called "Humble Pie" or "Suffering Fools".

To say that I was not at my best yesterday would be a supreme understatement and this quote pretty much sums things up. What I hate most about situations blown out of proportion is that I am the one typically doing the blowing while no one else seems to even notice that anything is amiss until the great wind named "Cindy" comes barreling through. I wouldn't be so disappointed in myself except that this sort of thing has happened to me too many times before. It's silly and I hate to be a fool. Only fools make the same mistakes twice and I am a fool many times over for the same reason. There are just times when I don't think, when I don't try to figure out what's really going on, when I just assume what others are thinking (because I know it all, you see...) and the worst of my personality traits come bubbling to the surface and I do rash things. Luckily, this type of situation doesn't happen very often - every few years or so - maybe that's why I forget that I told myself "Never again..." the last time. In every instance my foolish ways have been forgiven by friends and loved ones - I am a lucky girl, indeed - and so I am vowing to never push my luck again. We'll just have to see how it goes...

Another lesson finally ingrained in my little pea brain after way too much personal experience: Email is dangerous. Emails do not have vocal inflection, facial expressions or body language. Even with "emoticons" things said in an email can be read many ways. What to do instead?? Call. Pick up the freaking phone and call. Find out what's really going on before you let your imagination run away with you and you make a fool of yourself...again.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Winner of my first blog Give-away!!

And the winner of the "Victorian Treasures" inspiration kit is...


Please email me at with your mailing address and I will get your collection of vintage goodies sent off to their new home! Thanks to everyone who commented on my blog during the month of January! :)

I will be announcing the February give-away later today - another vintage inspiration kit. Be sure to stop by later to see the goods and comment for your chance to win!