Thursday, May 30, 2013

Formal but Fun Father’s Day Gifts

While some men only opt for French cuffs that necessitate a pair of cufflinks when they reach for a tux, others enjoy wearing them to work or even on a casual dinner date. A plus of these cuffs is that you can change the bling (cufflinks) to suit your mood or just be a bit different when you wear a particular shirt.

Whether the man in your life favors wearing cufflinks with formal wear or collects them and wears them often, my online Etsy shop, EclecticSkeptic, features a couple of fun to formal designs that would be a nice addition to your guy’s wardrobe come Father’s Day. Both the flying pigs and the music notes are available in silver plated or gold plated cufflinks. The music note cufflinks can also be customized with initials.

The third Sunday of June is fast approaching. If you want a customized music note cufflink pair in time for Father’s Day this year, I need to hear from you very soon. I have a few pair of both the flying pig and music note cufflinks in stock and ready to ship to you to give as gifts. (Of course there is nothing to stop you from buying them for yourself if you have taken a fancy to them.)

If your guy doesn’t have a shirt with French cuffs, you could get him one in addition to a pair of cufflinks and then take him to dinner on Father’s Day so he can wear his new goodies.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Design This – Hearts and Pearls

While displaying my creations at a show last holiday season, another vendor spied a pair of stick pearl earrings that she really liked. They were unusual in that they were drilled longitudinally. Unfortunately, they were also part of a necklace and earring set that I didn’t want to split up because I did not expect to be able to find more pearls to make new earrings to match the necklace exactly.

Earlier this year I came across a pair of matching stick pearls drilled in the same fashion. I emailed the vendor to see if she still had an interest in a similar pair of earrings to the pair she had seen last year. She was, so I took a few mock up photos for her to pick the color bead that she wanted to accompany the pearls. During this process, she also asked if I had any small heart beads to make some simple heart earrings for her too.

My first thought was, “If your business name is Merry Heart Face Painting, it makes sense that you would like hearts and want to wear them.” (It turns out I must like hearts too as I had quite a selection of heart beads from which to choose, including gemstone, glass and cloisonné hearts.) After choosing the three types of hearts that she liked the best, her wishes for the completed earrings was that they be small and minimalist. After sending images of some mock up earrings showing different combinations of beads that I had on hand to accompany the selected hearts, we settled on the designs.

After completing all of the earrings and getting approval from the photo proofs that I sent, payment arrived and I shipped everything off. I hope the new earrings will come in handy for a bit of branding for Merry Heart Face Painting or just for plain enjoyment. (If you ever need a face painter, she does great work.)

If you are looking for jewelry using a special component please contact me to see if I can fill your request.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Garden Tool Review - Weed Wrench

Have you ever been plagued by saplings in your shrubs, mesquite in your meadow or privet around your pond? Digging woody invasives that have gotten too big to pull by hand can be a real challenge to get rid of. Digging is often out of the question because of collateral damage to desirable plants. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to just pluck these pests straight out of the ground? You can, with a Weed Wrench.

I found out about this cool tool at a lecture about managing invasive plants at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. When I got home, I looked up the product online and after reading about it, ordered the largest one they had. My husband has pulled a small, 10-12 foot elm tree that was crowding our barn. Because of their taproots, pecans must be pulled before reaching 3-4 feet. What size woody plant can be pulled, is a combination of root development and soil moisture. I wish I had found this tool many years before I did. It has been invaluable in clearing out mesquite that has tried to colonize our pasture and for clearing saplings from our fence rows.

The Weed Wrench is basically a giant orange lever with jaws. These jaws clamp around the base of the plant that you wish to pull and hold it firmly while you pull back on the top of the lever. Your pulling and gripping forces are multiplied such that it is amazing to see what you are able to just pop out of the ground. The weed wrench comes in several sizes to match the job at hand. We ordered the next size down from the biggest one later for me to use as it was easier for me to lug around. The product’s website has some useful tips for selecting a size and using a Weed Wrench.

Because less soil surface is broken when using the Weed Wrench to remove woody pests than if you were to dig them out, fewer weed seeds will sprout in areas that need a lot of clearing. Less disturbance also occurs below ground when you use the Weed Wrench to pluck an unwanted plant that some bird planted among your prized roses, or other prized plants. In addition, you will expend much less energy wrenching rather than digging your unwanted woody pests.

This tool can also be used to pull up “T” posts and other stakes. If any of these examples sound like something you could use a bit of help with, check out the Weed Wrench to see if it could be a solution for you. (I am not affiliated with the company that makes this tool, I’m just a very happy customer.)

(The photos in this post demonstrate the Weed Wrench being used to pull an almost 6' mulberry tree from next to a clump of ironweed and a chain link fence. In the third photo you can see how nicely the root is being plucked straight out without the ironweed being disturbed.)

Update: While the original maker of the product ceased production, the rights have been sold to someone else where you can find their Uprooter or Weed Wrench.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

National Wildflower Week - 2013

What a beautiful weekend we have on tap in North Texas to wrap up National Wildflower Week. I hope you are having great weather where you are. If not, wait out the rain, cold or whatever might be keeping you in this weekend and get out and enjoy the wildflowers in your area when you can. The purpose of this week is not only to view the beautiful native wildflowers around you but to also learn about their value and how to protect them from the encroachment of invasive species. While having a national week focused on these aims raises awareness, these activities shouldn’t be undertaken solely during this week.

You can learn more about wildflowers and what this week's aims are on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s site. They also have a separate page with 20 suggestions for observing National Wildflower week.

Here in North Texas, the bluebonnets are getting towards the end of their bloom season, however there are still lots of other native wildflowers still going strong such as spiderwort, plains coreopsis, primrose, sundrops, winecups and many others.

If the weather is nice, how about taking a stroll with mom on Mother’s Day to view the wildflowers in your area?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Thanks for the Treasuries - April 2013

Ten different Etsians let me know that they had featured one or more of my items in a treasury during April. Ten April Etsy treasuries, that treasury makers let me know about, included one or more of my creations. My blue-green and black gathering pins were even featured twice, while one treasury featured an item from each of my shops. You can see a collage below of my items from EDCCollective and EclecticSkeptic that were featured during April. (Click on the collage to see a larger view.)

I really appreciate being featured by the treasury makers. To thank them, I have listed below (in alphabetical order) links to the 10 Etsy sellers that let me know that they featured one of my items, as well as an item from their shop that I like.

Enjoy window shopping and please click on the shop links of anything that catches your eye.

You will find eclectic vintage finds in this shop including cards in digital format, some of which are customizable.

Beautiful bling for every outfit in your closet (including earrings, anklets, bracelets and necklaces) and your books too.

Garden Art created with up-cycled plastic flamingos, recycled parts and large doses of imagination are found here.

If you have a wine connoisseur to shop for who happens to appreciate hand made items look no further than this shop.

Earrings, fridge magnets, pocket mirrors plus ... with dragonflies, birds, owls & more are found here.

This Canadian artisan has lovely hand crafted lampwork glass goodies and loom knitted toques.

This shop features creative, one of a kind jewelry creations that are designed such that no two pieces are likely to be the same.

Fun fabric poppy pins and hair accessories as well as knit hats designed in the shapes of fruits and veggies and other unusual things fill this shop.

Shop for vintage finds and handmade hair accessories, pins and jewelry, most with a floral theme.

This shop carries a mix of handmade jewelry and crafts made from leather, wax, wood and yarn.