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

Monday, February 28, 2011

Gallery prep today!

I have a gallery show starting in March and have had a tough time deciding how to display my beadwork. After contacting the gallery manager, I got the feeling that secure display options (ie ~ glass cases, covered pedestals, the like...) were not really available at this particular space (it makes you wonder, then, why they chose jewelry to be displayed there!!) and the gallery is not insured to cover my artwork in case of theft or damage (*huh?!*). The worrier in me (and, trust me, I am a worrier) says, "Take your toys and go home!", "Don't even bother!", "Pass this one by!". Of course I want my work to be seen and appreciated. Of course I want more gallery shows on my resume. Of course...

This is something new for me. Every other space in which my work has been displayed, there have been large glass cases or locking covered pedestals and I felt my work was perfectly safe and secure. For this reason, I'm a bit nervous about this show...

So, here's what I decided to do: I mounted my beadwork onto plain artist canvas so it can be hung on the wall like the other art. It's got to be harder to put a necklace in your pocket if it's attached to an 8" x 10" canvas frame, right? Each canvas has been prepared to be hung and labeled with the name of the piece. Had I more time, I think it would be great to add a splash of color to the canvas - something understated like a watercolor wash. By the time I found out what my display options were and came up with this idea - time was not something I had to spare. Anyway, here's what I did with "Tortuga":

Even though I'm delivering everything to the gallery this afternoon and won't have time to see comments beforehand, I would like to know what you think of this idea. Leave me a comment with any thoughts or ideas about this - and cross you fingers for me! Thanks! :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Playing with GIMP

Earlier today I posted about wanting to find ways to improve my web design knowledge/skills and do it for as little money as possible - preferably for free.

I do already use a truly wonderful photo editing program called Picasa. If you don't have Picasa, get it, right now, by clicking here. I get great results from this wonderful little application and since they have added something called "Picnik" - it has really gotten easy to make my photos look the best they can. Another reason I love it so much? It's free!

Where my arsenal has been lacking is in the ability to design cool logos, banners and avatars. This morning I started on a quest to find what I needed and by this afternoon, I felt I had arrived because I found GIMP.

GIMP is a powerful photo editing program that doubles as a design platform and it fits my criteria because it's free! I know lots of people make banners and such using Photoshop but it's just too dang expensive (for me, at least!) and while I do have some options for those sorts of tasks (that free software that came with my camera, for instance), they are cumbersome at best and don't have the bells and whistles I would enjoy playing around with. The answer? GIMP!

GIMP can be downloaded for free here.

Now, the learning curve for me when it comes to new software is pretty high. Somehow those little icons that are supposed to translate what a particular button is for just don't speak my language! Luckily, we have YouTube where you can find a wealth of information in the form of tutorials covering every subject imaginable. GIMP is no exception.

I stumbled upon a great beginner's tutorial from GIMPtricks. Her YouTube channel is loaded with fantastic tutorials covering all things GIMP! My entire day was full of creative fun after just watching this one tutorial and then playing around a bit.

My fun learning project today was Etsy banners. Here are a few I made while practicing and starting to learn my way around GIMP:

This was the first try...
In this second one I experimented with adding several border layers...
As you can see, I was stuck on this particular font!
And I decided to get groovy on this last example!
 So, if I can find my way around this great program, so can you! I am still learning and know there is SOOOOO much more to figure out - I can't wait!

...this was fun... :)

The Russian 7-string Guitar Quartet

My husband is a member of the (fairly) newly formed "Russian 7-String Guitar Quartet". They recently had a rehearsal meet-up in California and recorded a preview video. You can watch it on YouTube or just relax and stay here to see it. My hubby is the classy one in the blue shirt ~

Forthcoming is a CD and a tour - I'll be sure to let you know if they'll be in your neck of the woods! You can find out more about Oleg Timofeyev (their illustrious leader!) and the Russian 7-string guitar by visiting

Web design...

I have been known to say, "I know just enough HTML to get me into trouble.".... That is the truth. I know just enough to "design" (I use this word loosely, trust me!) a website: a simple site with a few, or even several, pages, with links that work and content that's easy to find.

I already have a few sites up that I did design:
...and even one for my father-in-law's real estate business:

I have designed sites for other artists and community organizations (and even been reimbursed for it, on occasion!).

Sounds good, right? Well, actually, it's not bad... it's maybe even pretty good... but my Scorpio-born sensibilities would like it to be better than good. I would really, truly like to be able to design a great website from the ground up with appealing pictures, cool graphics and an interesting lay-out that does exactly what I want it to do at all times and on all browsers. Oh, and I'd like to do it without having to invest in expensive software. OK, I'll be honest... I'm a big ol' cheapskate, so I would like to be able to do it with free stuff. Is this just too much to ask? Well, we'll have to see now, won't we?

So, after a quick trip to the library (Yay! Free!) and a little searching on my own bookshelf (Imagine that...!), I found these books:

The book on the left is HTML, XHTML, and CSS, Sixth Edition: Visual QuickStart Guide by Elizabeth Castro. It has lots of pictures which is perfect for a visual girl like myself. There's nothing that puts me to sleep quicker than a big page full o' tiny type and no color anywhere to be seen. This book is loaded with nice, large and colorful photos and illustrations. Of course, I haven't delved very deeply into it yet, let's cross our fingers that there is some substance along with the pictures!

The other book, creative html design by Lynda and William Wiseman, is maybe slightly out-of-date since it's publication date is 1998 (I hear you laughing out there....). OK, I know that 1998 in technology terms is like the age of the dinosaur but there may still be some information I can glean from it (...quit laughing... I can hear you, you know...). My knowledge of HTML dates from earlier than that and is still "serviceable" in many cases. And since this book was purchased 5 years ago for fifty cents at a thrift shop and whatever value it had then has certainly depreciated to nothing, it counts as one of those free resources! Yay! And the first image in this post is a shot I took of one of the pages from that book. I liked the idea of "Ducks in a Row" and thought it was something to keep in mind while learning a new skill.

So, I'll try to keep you posted and let you know what I find out, especially about the free resources. My first thought on that subject: The library ROCKS as a place for free resources! Go to the library! :)

Morning Coffee Quotes

"Create your future from your future, not from your past."
- Werner Erhard

"Men have slow reflexes. In general it takes several generations later for them to understand."
- Stanislaw J. Lec

"You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say."
- Martin Luther

"Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see."
- C. S. Lewis

"There’s no case in American corporate history that I’m aware of where any major corporation was or was not taken over because the stockholders were told it was a good or bad idea. P.R. can’t change the dynamics of the marketplace."
- Joseph H. Flom

"Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results."
- Margaret Atwood

"Tears are often the telescope by which men see far into heaven."
- Henry Ward Beecher

"It is much easier to be critical than to be correct."
- Benjamin Disraeli

"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
- Henry Brooks Adams

"He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid."
- Arthur Miller

"In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes."
- John Ruskin

"Using a spoon or a steam shovel is often less important a decision than digging in the right spot!"
- Glenn Crider

"We are never more discontented with others than when we are discontented with ourselves."
- Henri Frederic Amiel

"Don't matter how much money you got, there's only two kinds of people: there's saved people and there's lost people."
- Bob Dylan

"Glory lies in the attempt to reach one's goal and not in reaching it."
- Mohandas Gandhi

"Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits."
- Thomas Edison

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Look for me in Bead and Button!

Well, my preview issue of the April 2011 "Bead and Button" magazine arrived and I happily found "Tea Rose Garden Party" featured in the Your Work section (page 17, if you have your copy handy ~). Anyway, just wanted you to know :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Random Roses

It's not that there aren't about a hundred other things I should be doing today... but this is what I feel like doing today. So I am.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Morning Coffee Quotes

"There is all the difference in the world between having something to say and having to say something."
- John Dewey

"Everyone can master a grief but he that has it."
- William Shakespeare

"I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable. There is something unfair about its use. It is hitting below the intellect."
- Oscar Wilde

"Nothing turns out to be so oppressive and unjust as a feeble government."
- Edmund Burke

"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent vice of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries."
- Winston Churchill

"Fear is the highest fence."
- Dudley Nichols

"Everyone whose deeds are more than his wisdom, his wisdom endures; and everyone whose wisdom is more than his deeds, his wisdom does not endure."
- The Talmud

"To sit in judgment of those things which you perceive to be wrong or imperfect is to be one more person who is part of judgment, evil or imperfection."
- Wayne Dyer

"What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?"
- George Eliot

"Help your brother's boat across, and your own will reach the shore."
- Hindu Proverb

"Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
- John Kenneth Galbraith

"Nobody ever told me that grief felt so like fear."
- C. S. Lewis

"We never know the worth of water till the well is dry."
- Scottish Proverb

"For everything you have missed, you have gained something else; and for everything you gain, you lose something else."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Losing one glove is certainly painful, but nothing compared to the pain, of losing one, throwing away the other, and finding the first one again."
- Piet Hein

"Where there is much light, the shadow is deep."
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Well done, is better than well said."
- Benjamin Franklin

"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day."
- George Carlin

"Never make excuses. Your friends don't need them and your foes won't believe them."
- John Wooden

"To rule one's anger is well; to prevent it is better."
- Tryon Edwards

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Tea Rose was featured on the BnB newsletter!

Well, I guess I can tell everyone that "Tea Rose Garden Party" will be featured in the April 2011 issue of Bead and Button magazine in the Your Work section since it was included in one of the latest Bead and Button newsletter emails! I can't wait to see the "real" thing when my issue arrives! :)

Morning Coffee Quotes

Flowers at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park - photo by Cindy Caraway (June 2010)
"Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man."

- C.S. Lewis

"We become just by the practice of just actions, self-controlled by exercising self-control, and courageous by performing acts of courage."
- Aristotle

"By and by never comes."
- St. Augustine

"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."
- Oscar Wilde

"Love puts the fun in together, the sad in apart, and the joy in a heart."
- Unknown

"The truth is not always the same as the majority decision."
- Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla)

"Too often the strong, silent man is silent only because he does not know what to say, and is reputed strong only because he has remained silent."
- Winston Churchill

"Vanity plays lurid tricks with our memory."
- Joseph Conrad (Josef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski)

"Can miles truly separate you from friends? If you want to be with someone you love, aren't you already there?"
- Richard Bach

"Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom."
- George S. Patton

"Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important...They do not mean to do harm...They are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."
- T.S. Eliot

"An overdose of praise is like ten lumps of sugar in coffee; only a very few people can swallow it."
- Emily Post

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan press on has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
- Calvin Coolidge

"Security is a false god; begin making sacrifices to it and you are lost."
- Paul Bowles

"My doctor recently told me that jogging could add years to my life. I think he was right. I feel ten years older already."
- Milton Berle

"It is more shameful to distrust ones friends than to be deceived by them."
- Fran├žois duc de la Rochefoucauld

"How many times do you get to lie before you are a liar?"
- Michael Josephson

"The past is a guidepost, not a hitching post."
- L. Thomas Holdcroft

"If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. And if they don't, they never were."
- Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Element, Stress and an Overhaul

Sometimes things get a little crazy and it's time for an overhaul. Here's the deal, I have been incredibly stressed lately -I won't go into all the details because I really hate it when I visit someone's blog and it's all bodily function stuff (yuk.) but let's suffice it to say that I get stressed when I feel like my "poop" (figuratively, not literally!) is not in order.

One main contributor to the stress (besides my figurative "poop" being all over the place) is that I (as well as my art and my businesses) am (are) suffering from a little bit of an identity crisis. I have been reading some great books about this very thing. The main one is The Element by Ken Robinson - I love this guy... period. He explores creativity and has some fabulous talks on and a truly great one on Anyway, on Ken's website, The Element is described as:

"... the point at which natural talent meets personal passion.
When people arrive at the element, they feel most themselves
and most inspired and achieve at their highest levels." 

This simple statement describes everything I want my life to be. I want to find my "Element" and dedicate myself to developing it. I want to become my highest self, to live to my greatest ability and do it with passion.

Here's the book:

Here's an interview where he talked about this. I know it's long but I hope you'll bookmark it to watch sometime and be inspired to watch some of his other talks on or As a certified educator who became completely disillusioned and quit teaching, I think he really hits the nail on the head. Anyway, give it a watch:

**If the video doesn't load properly - find it at

In this attempt to find myself, "branding" has been on my mind. I don't (and never have) had a cohesive brand for my jewelry. I create large gallery pieces for shows and competitions but I also enjoy making nice, simple jewelry pieces for people to wear whenever and wherever they please. This makes me feel kind of "bipolar". My solution - to start a new business called "CC Bead Girl". This will be the place for the "everyday" jewelry creations as well as vintage beads, back-issue beading/craft magazines and tutorials. Here's the new logo (yes, a logo. I'm venturing into branding!):

It will also be the moniker I plan to use at craft fairs and such (which I am determined to venture into this year!). So, the Etsy shop - CCBeadGirl - is set up and ready for me to get items listed and the domain name - - is reserved and just waiting for some HTML to get it up and running. There's nothing on the website yet except a GoDaddy page holder - I'll let you know when there's something worth looking at!! :)

So, while it may seem like I'm adding stress to my life with these additions, I am actually starting to feel better! I'm on my way to finding my element.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I am an Unpretentious Bon Vivant! Yay!

I'm a sucker for style quizzes and personality profilers. This "Style Maker" quiz is one I found on the Stylish Home site and thought was kind of fun, plus I liked what it said about my style choices - I am an "Unpretentious Bon Vivant"!

Here is a little collage of my choices...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Just a Little Peek...

Just a few teaser shots of the new project I have in the works! :)

Who hasn't been talking about the weather...??

It seems everyone is talking about the weather! No wonder, since the massive storm that swept over the country was 2000 miles wide!! Here in Dubuque, IA we got roughly 15" of snow and very high winds. We did not suffer power outages (that I know of) or collapsed buildings but did have some mighty drifts to dig through. My husband picked a great week to go off to Southern California to rehearse with the guitar quartet he records with!  Luckily, a good friend was staying so there was some help with digging out.

Before digging, this drift was 4 feet deep!
Although I don't like driving in the stuff and don't relish digging through it either, I love to watch snow fall (or blow, as in this case) and think snow drifts are lovely to look at (provided you don't have to get through them for any reason). The small drift clinging to the edge of the garage roof was quite stunning and I couldn't help but get some shots of it. If I hadn't had to dig the car out, I never would have seen this (or gotten some mighty exercise out in the beautiful sunshine) - it was worth it!

Morning Coffee Quotes

"The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes

"There is an accuracy that defeats itself by the overemphasis on details."
- Benjamin N. Cardozo

"While we are postponing, life speeds by."
- Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca)

"If we had more time for discussion we should probably have made a great many more mistakes."
- Leon Trotsky

"To be witty is not enough. One must possess sufficient wit to avoid having too much of it."
- Andre Maurois

"Sometimes it is not enough to do our best; we must do what is required."
- Winston Churchill

"It is less mortifying to believe one's self unpopular than insignificant, and vanity prefers to assume that indifference is a latent form of unfriendliness."
- Edith Wharton

"It opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes, and softens down the temper; so cry away."
- Charles Dickens

"To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are."
- Eric Hoffer

"Never take counsel of your fears."
- Stonewall Jackson

"Intolerance of ambiguity is the mark of an authoritarian personality."
- Theodor Adorno

"There comes a time in the affairs of man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation."
- W. C. Fields

"False friends are worse than bitter enemies."
- Scottish Proverb

"No one ever complains about a speech being too short!"
- Ira Hayes

"If you're interested in 'balancing' work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable."
- Donald Trump

"In love, unlike most other passions, the recollection of what you have had and lost is always better than what you can hope for in the future."
- Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle)

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."
- Mark Twain

"Would you persuade, speak of interest, not of reason."
- Benjamin Franklin

"Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell."
- Edna St Vincent Millay

"It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself.
Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving;
it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe."
- Thomas Paine

"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."
- Margaret Thatcher