As is often the case, other creative activities have been on the agenda instead of jewelry and bead making.  We have a couple home projects that we've completed plus spent all day yesterday cleaning out our garage, which feels good to have done!

This is our kids bathroom - it's hard to tell in the pictures but that vanity was in bad shape and the faucet leaked - and I am pretty sure it is original to the house.  Also, without my permission, my kids have gotten older, so were ready for a more grown up space.

In the process of installing the new vanity, removing a replacing the mirror and then painting became "necessary," but I'm glad we did.

Along with growing up the kids bathroom, we wanted to grow up my son's room - this picture is after new paint, carpet and blinds, and a new desk (and my husband getting up the computer). After we got it all done, I decided I wanted to paint the dresser so it wouldn't stick out too much.  

I didn't want to go with black - all the other new furniture was that color - so I picked a darker shade of the wall color and got some fun knobs - I am happy with how it came out.

Part of the room re-do was moving the computer from the common area of the house into his room.  It breaks a rule I had about TVs and computers in kids rooms, but he uses it every day for school and it was time to recognize his growing maturity :-) 

So the old computer desk needed a new purpose - and I thought a real bar would be cool.  My husband and I aren't ones to drink a lot of mixed drinks, but once in a while it's fun.  I decided to use the same paint, but leave the legs brown to keep it interesting.

What should be on the bar is still a work in progress, but I did find a cool bird cage wine rack at Pier One for $4, some great stemless martinis glasses for $1.50 each, and some pretty decanters at the Crate & Barrel Outlet for about $30 each.  

A couple birthdays or Christmases ago, my Mom, brother and sister-in-law gave me this brooch. It's an Ann Hand brooch. Her jewelry is well known around DC and often graces the lapels of powerful women like Secretaries, First Ladies and presidential candidates. All Ann Hand jewelry has a story - the symbols and materials are all chosen for a distinct reason. For this, the Air Force brooch:'s wings are the grace, speed and precision of the world's most incredible Air Force...the wings gain their power and sustain their endurance from the Air Force family represented by the beautiful silver laurel..." Kinda awesome, isn't it? 

Her most famous pin is this one, the Liberty Eagle pin, which I bet you recognize.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is one of the most famous brooch wearers here in DC, and she has a wonderful book that you should read:  

The pictures and stories behind the jewelry are fabulous, as are her stories about where and when she wore her brooches.  For very important meetings and negotiations, she would pick her jewelry to send a message.  You can order it here or better yet, go get it from your local library :-) 

My mother in law was going through her mother's jewelry and sent me some treasures.  Mostly broken pieces that I can reuse in other projects (which I love) but tucked in the box were two pieces that caught my attention:

The earrings are in excellent condition and are lovely - they will go right in to my own jewelry collection.  They remind me of Mary so much.  She spent most of her adult life in Carson City, Nevada and worked as a proof reader for the state legislature.  She wasn't one to dress "western" but she did always have beautiful western silver jewelry - sometimes a ring, or a pretty watchband.  I will cherish these.

The second item caught my eye for a number of reasons.  The first was because I remember my own grandmother collecting charms from travels.  The second was the location - the San Diego Zoo. What a great place! And the third was the price - $4.50 for sterling silver! Can you imagine the price now?  I would guess that this charm had to have been purchased at least 30 years ago. It definitely needs to be part of some new piece of jewelry and "freed" from its cardboard confines :-)

My friend Sandi is the bomb!  We try and get together a couple times a year to create - we live in the same metro area, you would think it would be easy - but we both have busy families so time away to create is sometimes hard to fine.  Sandi reached out and said that she was going to Bead Fest Philly, and did I want to go.  For the first time in YEARS, it worked out schedule wise, so I picked her up last Saturday and off we zoomed.  Sandi had connected with another awesome jewelry buddy Sally, and we could all crash in her room.  I told you Sandi was the bomb :-)

We ended up taking two classes, one with Eva Sherman where I learned brazing - a way of melting wire together.  Eva and I had been Bead Soup partners a couple years ago and I was excited to finally meet her in person.  She was a wonderful, warm and gracious teacher!

Then we took a 1-hour class from the incredible Kate Richbourg.  She was amazing - in one hour we left class with awesome stacking rings and a cool button - our graduation gift :-) After the two classes I m fired up (ha ha!) to try more soldering.

And the shopping, oh the shopping! Of course new classes meant I needed new tools and wire (especially from Parawire and

A bunch of us snapped up this nifty crochet tool called a Lucet from Cooky Schock.  It's portable and addicting!

And the art beads - amazing!! Urchin beads by Nikki of Thornburg Bead Studio, lamp work pairs by Heather of HMB Studios, colored O-rings from Yvonne of My Elements, an incredible rabbit from my dear friend Jenny Davies Razor and some metal components from Cooky.     

Last but not least, I picked up some cool and interesting Czech glass from Nirvana Beads.

I have so many ideas! So many pretty things to be inspired by! Thanks Sandi and Sally for a great weekend!

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