13 June 2013

Refreshed and Renewed

It was a rush of inspiration, fueled by panic, prompted by a simple request - "We'd like to try anything you have that's new." 

For the past year and a half String Me Along Jewelry has been sold at the Gallery Shop of the Art Gallery of Sudbury, in Ontario.  When placing their Spring order, they asked for new products.  I felt a rising dread.  I've been ... what?  Tired? Uninspired? Lacking direction? Bored?  Hard to say, but the answer was simply that I had not had any new product in ages.  And that suddenly seemed like a serious shortcoming. 

I pored over my somewhat depleted bead stash and ideas start to coalesce.  Those larger blue beads, with these pressed glass flowers.  These bead caps with this simply stunning faceted glass.  Next thing I knew, my work surface was a mess, but new product was happening.  I was pleased with the results.  I was invigorated by the results, more importantly.  Then, I looked again at my depleted bead stash and thought "This simply won't do!".  I loaded up online shopping carts with beads and drained my paypal.  Then, I sat back and anxiously awaited the packages hoping that the inspiration and spark would not fade before the arrivals.  Lucky for me, it lasted.

Luckier still for me, while I was waiting for the packages, I was found by a local boutique.  My bobby pin sets are now located at Fancy Lucky Vintage Boutique in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia. 

Suddenly, it seemed that everything was coming up Carol!!

Now, I am happy to say that I have a whole mass of new items.  I am happier to say that I have made the decision to stay with etsy and press on.  Most of these items are now ready to list and will be appearing in my shop over the coming weeks.  Here is a sneak preview:

What this does mean is that all items in my shop will be at long last returning to regular price.  Until June 21 however you can use coupon code RENEW30 to enjoy a 30% discount.

On top of that, any purchases made between now and July 12 will qualify the buyer for a ballot in a prize draw.  Up for grabs is: a pair of glass beaded earrings, featuring pretty berry coloured trumpet flowers; a necklace with a pretty rust coloured patina butterfly, an ivory flower and a czech bead, and; a set of stormy blue-grey bobby pins.  Value of the prize is $50. 

Visit my etsy shop today and check back regularly for new listings. 

17 February 2013

Food Love

I make no secret of the fact that I love to eat.  Food is a celebration.  It should amuse all our senses.  Taste is of course important, but it should also please the eye. 

Yesterday I enjoyed a course of jewel tones.  Rich amethysts and emeralds with a taste both sweet and sharp.

A wonderfully ripe fig nestled into a generous slice of herb enrobed goat cheese, perched on a thin slice of day old baguette, broiled until melted and warmed.  The beautiful colours of the fig were a jewelled delight atop the snowy goat cheese.  Scattered alongside the crostini was a blend of matching lettuces in deep greens and purples.


14 February 2013

Love Day

I have a confession to make. 

Secretly, a little bit, I really love Valentine's Day. It is a little bit about the chocolate, but its more about the kitschiness of the day.  But then, I am a product of the 70's, a time when Valentine cards left in school-desk mailboxes didn't need to be politically correct, were loaded with bad puns, and were truly garish in design.  It was an amazing time then!

 Here are a couple favourites I found:



These two are great because its food... in love.  How sweet and silly is that.  Better than that, how loaded with puns can you be?  Well, seemingly the answer is really loaded, after all three puns in one short sentence is a gold standard of punny excellence!  Or should I say "eggs-ellence"! 

Now these two are great because they are so unabashedly NOT politically correct.  First of all, children with guns! And look how happy they are to be brandishing them. That would pretty much never happen now.  I am also pretty certain that on the Davy Crocket kid on top, that is not a faux fur cap he's wearing.  Pissing off at least two lobby groups at once with that card.  Awesome!

This one is interesting. She seems to be taking this rather lascivious looking chap and his double entendre with a surprising amount of good grace.  But she does have the decency at least to blush at his advances.  I am not sure if this was meant to be a child's Valentine or not.  If so, then it actually is a little disturbing. 

And then we come to this:

I can't even hazard a guess as to what this card is about.  Putting "thing" in quotation marks though makes it seem mildly dirty.  And somehow even more confusing.  Is it a decorated toilet paper roll?  I really don't understand.

Anyway.... I could do this all day.  But, I won't.  Instead I will simply wish you a Happy Valentine's Day.  May Cupid pierce your heart. 

11 February 2013

Spring Really IS on the Horizon

... if I keep telling myself this, it is bound to be true. 

In actual fact though, there are small little hints of it if you know where to look.  For example, look past the 2 foot snow drifts that have collected around the bottom of the gardens.  Focus instead on the fact that each day the amount of daylight hours seems to expand by at least five minutes.  That's a good sign, right?

And while yesterday was rather frigid and blustery, today the breezes are calm and the mercury is pushing its way past zero.   Expect it to drop again at some point, sure, but know also that soon these little pulses will be a more common occurrence. 

Acknowledge that this exists:

But then, choose to remind yourself that spring's thawing temperatures and fresh blooms are just a mere few weeks away with these:

The inventory blowout in my etsy shop continues.  As I continue to work through my supply stash, keep an eye out for new listings. 

10 February 2013

Crafting a Resolution

Among my New Year's resolutions this year was to try a new craft project, or revisit an abandoned craft project, once each month. 

This is January's project. 

Embroidery had been on my must-try list for sometime, and lucky for me my very generous friend Pegg of fiveforty sent me an embroidery starter set from Whimsiology.

The set included the embroidery hoop, complete with the fabric which had a drawing on it that I simply needed to follow using the supplied embroidery thread.  Simple instructions on stitching had me going in no time.  There are a few rough spots in my attempt - some of those little bends are tricky! - but I was pretty pleased with my first attempt.  Embroidery for the win!  I totally loved this little project and can see myself tackling another project sometime in the future.

February's attempt at crafting is a little more ambitious.  I am revisiting an abandoned craft this month - needle-felting.  Some time ago, I rough sketched a version of Van Gogh's Starry Night onto a flat piece of felt that I bought at the Belfast Mini Mills in PEI.  (You can read a bit about them here.)   Using tufts of roving that I have collected over the years, I am now in the process of felting the picture. 

Here it is in the early stages.   You can see bits of the sketched out part as well as the beginnings of the felting - that's a cypress in case you are wondering.  :)

7 February 2013

Thinking About the Future

You know you can't ever know what the future holds.  But, sometimes you have an idea that your path might be about to change direction. I think that is where I am at.  I see a fork ahead and some choices that will need to be made.

In preparation for whatever the future may hold, I have decided to sell through my existing stock of String Me Along Jewellery and to take a breather from etsy.  It does not mean that I will be going away entirely.  In time, I might feel inspired and stimulated and want to start anew.   But not right now....

So, while it saddens me to do so, I am offering all my designs at up to 50% off until my shop is empty. 

Prices have already been marked down in the shop so there is no hassle with coupon codes, etc.  Just pop by my shop and feel free to send me a convo if you are interested in different colour selections.  I still do have a huge hoard of beads and supplies so might be able to accommodate requests.

21 July 2012

Tall Ships

I know absolutely nothing about boats and ships - starboard, what? - except that they are awesome.  The bigger and old-timier the better.  If they inspire illusions of pirate booty and scurvy they become more intriguing still.  So, imagine my delight when I discovered that the Tall Ships Festival was being held in Halifax this year.

For the past few days ships have been arriving under full sail into Halifax Harbour and this morning we took the opportunity to walk the plank and shiver our timbers.  In ordinary parlance that translates to meander along the boardwalk and tour the boats in neat single file fashion. 

I can't pinpoint exactly what it is about these giant ships that set my pulse racing: the towering masts; the rattle of rigging and reels; the wind-snapped flags; the cool brass or the warm timbers.   Maybe it is the aura of adventure and of romance: high tossed waves; far away ne'er before seen lands, and; bereft lovers alone on shore.  Maybe it is the sheer danger of it all with with press gangs and pirates.

I can state with some certainity that I do love the solemn guidance of a ship's figurehead.  Here are two from the ships we viewed today.

This traditional figurehead looks suitable charged, willing to brave the waves and lead her men to shore. She oozes determination.

By contrast, this little frog sailor is ridiculously adorable and whimsical.  He does however look as though he takes his duties quite seriously and he is a natty little dresser to boot!

Come Monday the ships will again set course for the high seas.  It was a brief romance we shared, but it was fine while it lasted.

27 June 2012


I will tell you now that if you are at all squeamish, turn back now!!

I was fortunate enough to sneak out of work early one day this week - no, wait, that is not at all what happened.  I was stupid enough to commit myself to a half day of work on my day off!  When I left the day was glorious sunny, a true bright spot in a week bookended by three day bouts of heavy rains. 

I decided to use the weather to my advantage and finally finish some of the garden projects that I started but hadn't yet had time to finish.  Grabbing my flat of seedlings, I trotted off to the garden. It was as I was picking up one of the bags of soil that I had carelessly left out beside the garden for a several days that I realized the ground below it had become a hidey-hole for horrible little bugs.  Don't ask what kind- they were bugs and that is all I care to know!

Immediately, I panicked!!  Bugs!!  AH... and herein starts the conversation that took place between crazy, insanne me (CIM) and rational me (RM).

CIM:  BUGS!!!  Ack.  Ick.  Oh my god.  OH MY GOD!!  They're in my hair. THEY'RE IN MY HAIR!!!

RM: They aren't in your hair.  How could they be?  They didn't fly there; they have no wings.  They didn't leap there; their legs are too stumpy and kneeless to be leaping legs.

CIM:  Right. Yeh, they aren't in my hair.  OH MY GOD!!! They're in my shorts. THEY'RE IN MY SHORTS!!!

RM: *sigh* They aren't in your shorts. How would they have immediately gotten into your shorts.  Look at how slow they are.  They probably didn't run there; they can barely be bothered to meander!

CIM: Ugh... they are just so gross.  Looks at them.  Ick. eeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwoo.

RM:  Ok, relax.  Go to your happy place.  Gooo toooo yoouurrr hhaaappy plaaace.

CIM: Happy place? My garden is my happy place, but.... IT'S ALL FULL OF BUGS!!!!

RM:  Stop.stop.stop.stop.STOP!  You have more happy places.  Go to another one.

CIM:  OK.  think.think.think.happy.place. The Museum of Natural History! DAMMIT.

RM: I give up.  Crazy... you win!

13 June 2012

What to Do With a Free Wednesday?

Road trip!  My lovely husband was working at the bottom end of the province this evening which meant he had a morning free and would be passing skirting along the South Shore later in the day.  Taking advantage of a perfect day, I decided to follow him part way out and we met up in Lunenburg for lunch.

We stopped for a lovely lunch at the Salt Shaker deli where the special of day to my complete delight was Lobster Mac-n-Cheese.  Homemade mac-n-cheese is always a treat especially when topped with a super layer of melted, bubbly, slightly browned cheese.  Adding lobster to the mix, well, that just makes a good meal even better!

After we parted, I continued a mini-tour of Lunenburg and managed to catch this glimpse of the Bluenose II which is currently undergoing an extensive restoration.  It looks so much bigger in real life than it does on the dime, no? I can't wait to see it someday in full sail!

I took the scenic route back home, taking short detours along roads that had "Point" in their name.  It's always a safe bet that you will be afforded a gorgeous ocean view if you follow these twisting, turning mystery roads.

My meandering route took me eventually into Mahone Bay where I made a stop at Jo-Ann's market to pick up their amazing mushroom pate.  It brings me immense joy to slather this pate on a slab of baguette and I have been known to drive to Mahone Bay for no other reason than to satisfy my craving.

While in Mahone Bay, I was also treated to a visual feast as wild roses and irises were bursting into bloom all around.  Look at the beauty of these deep purple irises.

 From Mahone Bay more meandering roads brought me to Chester.  While in Chester, I naturally had to stop at Julien's for an espresso and a pair of chocolate croissants for tomorrow's breakfast.  And, I just realised how today seems to be about nothing but food.  How did that happen?  Ah well, I walked off some of it.  But, really it wasn't all food, there are also more gorgeous deep purple flowers.  This time, it was lupins growing near a picket fence.  What maritime prettiness!

And leaving Chester, the plan was to just go straight home but I saw the exit for Peggy's Cove and had to make the turn.  I don't think that I have ever been able to resist the turn to Peggy.  And so, here she is - the world's most famous lighthouse.

Here is a view of her full cove complete with what was once a tiny fishing village.  Off in the distance you can see the fog starting to form and thicken.  It does that quite often at this time of year.

And maintaining her seafaring tradition, the cove is still home to lobster traps and dories

I can't wait for my next free day.  Summer is meant for roadtrips and I think I kicked the season off in good fashion this year.

5 June 2012

In Bloom

Here in Halifax we seem to have entered the rainy season, also known as summer.  Coincidentally, most of the rain days seem to happen on my days off work.  No surprise there!  It would be easy enough to sit and moan about sloshing around in wet shoes, wrangling frizzy hair and a restlessness to get out into the garden. Instead, I used the opportunity last week to dive into a project that would bring a little gardeny goodness inside. 

I found this amazing tutorial on how to make crepe paper rosettes on The Idea Room.  I used the tutorial and made a pair of rosette topiaries.  Here is my version - step by step.

First, I built the topiary structure.  I used 24" styrofoam balls, cuttings of birch saplings from my yard, styrofoam block and metal flower tins.

Next, I started crafting the crepe paper rosettes using the tutorial I posted above. My first attempts were horrendous!  I actually clicked into the additional video clip and it made things much easier to follow.  As you get used to twisting and wrapping it becomes easy and you will get much quicker at it.  Relax, the roses look prettier the less uptight you become about them.

Once I had finished my first roll of crepe paper, I started hot gluing the roses onto the styrofoam ball to get a sense of how many I would need to craft.  The answer... a lot!  I used a full six rolls of crepe paper and should have used a seventh.
Here, the result is just a funny topiary toupee.

And so, keep on wrapping.  I have to say, I love the rosettes all just sitting together in a single layer in a shallow tray.  I was resting mine in a shallow black enamelled tray and the pink just popped against it.  I think I will make an arrangement in the tray sometime.

Here is the topiary completed.  The rosettes really fill the ball out and it looks all lovely and puffy and pretty.  I did go and steal some moss off the base of a tree to wrap around the bottom, but apparently forgot to take a photo of it in its completed stage.  I had also planned to tie a ribbon around either the stem or the metal base, but didn't.  I think if I repeat this craft for Christmas I will do so to make it even more festive.

Here is one final closeup of the topiary ball covered in rosettes.  In the end I decided that I preferred the roses more loosely wrapped. They created a fuller, vintage English rose look.

Sadly, I am not keeping these topiaries at home for my own enjoyment.  These went back to work with me where they were used as a table decoration for a Diamond Jubilee party.

 And, while it is raining again this week, I will say that rainy days do have some merit.  How gorgeous does my bleeding heart look covered in raindrops?

PS... these topiaries would be fantastic decoration for a wedding, shower, or any party.  If you are in the Halifax area and might be interested in ordering some, drop me a note.  :)

19 April 2012


We were asked to cat-sit a few weeks ago.  My husband has a mild allergy to cats so I really didn't expect him to oblige, but sometimes he surprises me.    So two sweet cats, Bella (aka the fat one) and Jade (aka the little one) came to stay with us for a week. 

Bella wasted no time settling in.  She made fast friends with my husband and happily the allergic reactions were very mild.  Soon Bella was trotting along at his heels everywhere he went and meowing pitifully and pacing back and forth whenever he was behind a closed door.  He caved every time.  His original rule of "they stay downstairs" was quickly abandoned.  He admitted by the end of day two that he had been letting Bella hang out with him anywhere she pleased.  By the end of day three she had also managed to figure out how to open pocket doors so she was able to wander at will. And, by the end of the week she was greeting us in bed in the mornings, mainly to remind us that she likes to be fed.

Jade was a tougher nut to crack.  She tends to be a cranky one even in her own familiar surroundings.  Placing her somewhere new was a bit of a challenge for her - and us.  She hissed and groaned anytime we came to near.  I wasn't ready to give up on her though, and made her endure some scratches behind the ear, which soon turned into belly rubs and on occasion allowing me to pick her up.  On our second to last day together she allowed me to carry her upstairs, though she moaned and groaned all the way.  But then, I put her in the sunbeam the spreads across our kitchen floor.  She sat for a minute, then stretched out, rolled over onto her back and purred.  I had won her over.  It lasted about five minutes and then I moved, she hissed, growled and ran away.  Ah well.

 Here are some photos of the visitors.

This is Bella. She knows where to find a cushy spot to sleep.  She simply stole the little nest that Jade had made by stamping down the cushions on the back of the couch.

This is Jade at her most fierce!  Ok, really I had interrupted her 23 hours of sleeping and she was yawning.

But, truth be told I took quite a number of photos of her and this is the one where she has the least disapproving expression on her face.

We were sad when they left and are now looking for a shelter kitty that might want a new home with us.

20 March 2012

It's Spring!!

Officially.  It's here.  SPRING!

Normally, I would be a little tickled to look at my calendar and notice those little words typed at the bottom of the date telling me that the day had finally arrived.  But, today I am truly puffed up with excitement at the arrival of this wondrous new season.  Spring could not have arrived in grander style. 

At the moment the thermometer is showing me a double digit temperature - 20 degrees.  *sigh*  The sun is shining brilliantly.  Best of all - I have the day off work.  Honestly, could it be better. Not likely.

All week I have been witnessing the arrival of old dear friends and their absence has truly made my heart grow fonder.  Robins, song sparrows, and even those silly grackles that devour all the bird seed and screech their presence.  I have missed you all and welcome you back. 

Poking about in my gardens this morning I saw the first shoots of chives appearing among last year's browned, dried out matter.  And lo' did I spy tips of tulips and daffodils and croci, oh my!  Convinced I was that the newly planted bulbs had become a squirrel buffet throughout the winter, I was more than overjoyed to push aside some of the insulating autumn leaves and find fresh sprouts of growth.  How I long for those cheery yellow blooms. 

To make the most of the new season, I made a hasty jaunt to the still-bare garden centres and stocked up with (not enough) potting soil.  The first of my container veggies are planted and the fresh taste of spring will in the near future be dancing across my winter-weary palette. 

Welcome spring, and thank you March for being such a lamb. 

In this season of rejuvenation, my etsy shop is also going through a period of revival.  Currently all items are 50% off.  Follow the link here - stringmealong on etsy - and use coupon code FLING50 to receive your discount.

7 February 2012

Downton Inspirations

What an impossibly long time it has been since I have posted anything on this once again, much neglected blog.  My resolutions to be better never do last long, do they?  I do swear (again, I know!) to be more attentive.  Regardless, if you have chosen to stick around and peek in occasionally, I do thank you.  And, since you are here let's get to it, shall we?   

This past weekend I found an immensely satisfying new source of creative inspiration - Downton Abbey.  If you are not aware of this program, you must go find it.  It is a British period based on the inhabitants - the aristrocratic Crawley family and the family's servants - of Downton Abbey, an impressive country home in Northern England in the years immediately before and during World War 1. 

Not only is the cast incredible (honestly, I had no idea I could love Dame Maggie Smith more), but the setting is breathtaking, and the costumes out of this world.  Everytime a new hat enters a scene, I swoon.  Immediately, my eye started to light upon some fabulous examples of period jewellery.  It has proven to be a great source of inspiration.  I love jewellery and fashions from this area, and once I was able to tear myself away from my TV, I proceeded post-haste to my studio.  I ripped into all the supplies that I had to hand, including ones that had been long been banished and went on a frantic search for anything I could use to start crafting some new pieces.  How wonderful to find some new inspiration and to be able to look at my supply stash through these rose-coloured glasses.

Cameos, oversized glass pearls, lockets, antiqued metals, and jet glass all have a new purpose.  And I already have a significant number of pieces to add to my new Downton inspired collection.  Here is a sneak peek at some of the pieces already, and be sure to keep checking my etsy shop as more pieces become available for sale.

17 August 2011

Halifax Craft Show - This Weekend

Hello!!  I've been pretty much AWOL all summer.  I've been busy though, and I have some new designs.

You can catch a sneak peek of some of my new items at the Art vs Craft Show this weekend at the Halifax Forum in Halifax.  We will be in the Maritime Room between 11am and 6pm.  Some of my favorite etsy sellers will also be in attendance.

Hope to see you there.  Keep an eye on my etsy shop too over the next few weeks as new items start to appear.  Lots of new autumn colours on the way.