Monday, June 15, 2015

Downtown Milwaukee

Well, I survived another year of Bead&Button Show! It was great to experience it from an employee perspective. Long 12 hour days filled with loads of fun. I took four amazing classes this year and spent lots of money buying cool bead related items.

I haven't taken pictures of items I made or purchased yet. I might end up saving those for a blog post on the Bead&Button website but in the meantime, I thought I would just share some random photos of my favorite part of downtown Milwaukee. It's called the Historic Third Ward District. Lots of eclectic shopping and wonderful restaurants. Even a public market that is amazing on the inside. A true city gem. Probably my most favorite area in the city. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I'm still here!

Yes, it is true. I'm still here. Just thought I would pop in and say hello. Life has been crazy as ever and we have been slowly adjusting to our new lives here in Milwaukee. It was quite a rocky start getting the kids adjusted to a new school. I'm in shock to think that almost a year ago to the date, I flew up here to go house hunting. It's strange and scary how fast this transition time has gone by. I feel like I'm finally at the point where it is safe to come out of hibernation and survival mode.

So to give a reduced recap of our lives these past 8 months, we are all surviving. Caiden turned 11 last month and is flourishing here. He loves his new school and has made some good friends. I'm so grateful that the transition was very smooth for him. The big boys I'm now happy to say are doing pretty well. It was a rough heart-breaking start at the beginning of the school year. Mourning their old friends, their old life, and old school was quite a shock to their system. I kept saying they just need time. We all needed time. I'm not going to lie as they would pack up and move back home in a heart beat but having said that, they are making friends and adjusting to their new environment. They smile, laugh, and have typical teenage personalities. Keegan got his license this past summer, and Connor will be getting his drivers permit in the next week.

Me? I'm adjusting well too. As if the change of picking up and moving to a new state wasn't enough, going and getting a full-time job was another huge adjustment for the entire family dynamics. I think we have for the most part gotten used to the new routine and environment. I totally love my job though, and I can't believe I've been at Kalmbach for 8 months now. I've had the pleasure of working on several issues of Bead&Button and two issues of Wirework magazine. Yes, I still pinch myself often! lol.... I have very little opportunity to do a lot of creating with my personal designs as there just isn't the time. But, I have made a few things for the magazines. The spring issue of Wirework (hitting the stands next week) has two projects of mine. You might recognize the bangles set but the ring was designed for this issue. Just as this issue is hitting the stands, we are busy working on the Fall issue which will also include one of my projects.

I've become immersed in the wonderful world of seed beads and all the varieties of two-hole beads now that I'm working for Bead&Button. We have started something new and are offering kits of projects that the editors design. The August issue will feature two kits (earrings and a ring) that I designed, and I'm super excited about. I will share more about it later.

And of course, the Bead&Button show is coming up in early June. Things are ramping up fast for it. YAY!

Wow, I just realized that I could have loads to talk about just in all the fun events and things that are going on behind the scenes. So stayed tuned and come back often as I will slowly start updating this page and start sharing this new version of my life.

It's finally starting to warm up and signs of spring have been late coming. It was a long cold winter, and I will leave ya with a pic of me and the boys. Well, at least what you can see of cute Caiden. Hubby was taking the pic so we will catch him next time!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Life Changes & New Adventures Part 2

Oh my goodness… I'm giddy as a school girl and can't contain my excitement any longer!!!!

I am holding in my hand a confirmation letter of employment. As if picking up and moving to a new state wasn't enough excitement, I had to add to the party and get a new job. But not just any job. My dream job!! I am officially an associate editor for Bead&Button Magazine. Oh my goodness, that felt amazing to write. And, as an added cherry on top, I will also have the pleasure of working with Kalmbach's Wirework magazine.

Tomorrow morning, I report for my first day on the job!!! I will be part-time until the kids start school on September 2 and then I will convert to full-time. I wonder if I will be able to sleep tonight.

The process all started during our chaotic transition of moving and throwing our lives into what felt like a tornado. I couldn't help myself and felt compelled to also keep an eye on Kalmbach Publishing's website for job opportunities. I knew that we were moving to Bead&Button country and the idea of working for them was something I could only imagine. Then one day in June before we made the move, I saw it. Destiny was mine. There bold as could be was the posting for associate editor for Bead&Button. My heart raced and the stars aligned. I told myself after the move I would give myself a few weeks to get unpacked and settled and then, I had to get my resume together and go after that job. It seemed to good to be true.

My journey as a bead maker and jewelry designer has brought me down so many expanding pathways that continualy has added layer upon layer of experiences and exposure to the editing and publishing world. The timing seems perfect. This has been a year of changes and fresh new starts. Embracing this vision and striving to bloom where I have been planted, has brought me on this new journey and new career path. It's the perfect opportunity to help grow new roots and make new friends and associations which will only strenghten the feeling of being able to call Milwaukee home. The thought of going to an office and being able to be involved with all things bead and jewelry related is …. well lets just say I keep pinching myself!

To answer your next question, I will be knocking my personal artistry down to a hobby level. I am sure I will still want to create and make beads when I have the opportunity. When I do, I will continue to use Etsy as my storefront. My first priority right now is getting acclimated and submerged in my new job and helping the kids continue to adjust and settle in their new environment. I can't express how wonderful it feels to finally be back on a path where I can envision our lives more than just a few weeks in advance. It has been an incredibly rough year and the thought that I can start to see our future in greater detail feels very settling and comforting. No more hibernating and to that all I can say is YAY!! as that sums it all up in the fastest and simplest terms.


Life Changes and New Adventures Part 1

I just read through my last post in April and wow am amazed at how just a few short months has brought so many life changes. I could write an in depth book but will just do the highlighted version.

June was a total blur. The kids got out of school and off to Disney World we went for a trip with my parents, brother and his family, my aunt and uncle from PA, and my cousin and her family. There were 18 of us and it was a wonderful week.

Doing Disney with style...

Then back home to an unhappy reality for 3 days before the  packing and moving company arrived and insert the image of the Clamppetts from the Beverly Hillbillies and we were off on our merry (ok, I will be the first to admit. It wasn't super merry as we were leaving our lives, families, friends and everything behind to travel to the unknown) way. But we have all entered into this new adventure with positive thoughts and attitudes and have been embracing Milwaukee with complete and utter grandeur.

I must say that I owe Milwaukee an apology. The summer weather is just amazing and we are loving being surrounded by water. Hubby moved up here in January to start his new job while the boys and I stayed behind so they could finish school. They had one of the worst winters ever, and I only came up once in February and it was freezing, dreary, and lets face it… just plain miserable. My only previous exposure to the city was my yearly pilgrimage to the Bead and Button show that is held downtown. Which that on its own of course is amazing, but the thought of leaving everything we love and cherish behind was beyond painful. My mind couldn't wrap itself around the city. I would look at homes for sale on-line but had no idea of the area and what to expect. But… May came along and I flew up for the week to go house hunting and found "the" house that hubby had no choice but to buy. lol….  

So when we pulled up to our new home, I knew I would love the house and was excited to show the kids as this was their first time in their new city. Sadly, our oldest stayed behind for a month with my parents so he could finish up the summer swim team season. So we were one kiddo short and that was really tough also. Oh, btw… my middle child says I am not allowed to use the word "kiddo" but I figured he isn't reading this so I'm going to use it without repercussion from him:-)

So since the move, we have devoured and explored the city with a passion. Concentrating on getting the kids acclimated and exposed to all the great things here. We keep them busy and go on lots of adventures to help the transition. Keegan arrived about 3 weeks ago and the family is now finally together. I was really worried about him as this was a tough move on him leaving all of his friends behind but he is doing wonderful. I'm so proud of all the boys. They are doing much better than I ever expected and trying to make the best of the situation they were placed in. We have been so busy getting settled and acclimating the kids that my studio/workshop is still sitting in boxes. I have dug through some of them looking for random items here and there but hubby still needs to wire me up a dedicated circuit for my kiln. That is the last piece of the puzzle for getting settled into the house. 

It feels like we have been on vacation ever since we moved here. It has been a lot of fun and it feels amazing to be back together as a family. If only it were warmer and if only there were palm trees, I could pretend we were in Florida. I even hear and see sea gulls when I'm in the parking lot at Target. I still find that so cool. 

Connor caught the big one!

Then to break up the transition, both big boys had their best buds fly up to stay for the week and that was perfect timing for them. It was the best week and very uplifting. As a mother, watching the kids leave their friends behind is just heart breaking. Seeing them reunited gave me a warm feeling and I was so grateful to their families for letting them come for the week.

The boys getting ready to Kayaking at the lake which is about 10 min. away from our house.

A jaunt down to downtown Chicago which is about 2 hours away.

We also celebrated Keegan's big 16 birthday while their friends were here. Not a car but he was happy none the less. 

An afternoon at Bradford Beach on Lake Michigan downtown which is about 20 min from the house. Caiden by the way is standing up inside that sand hole. lol

Opening night of the WI state fair. Wow, is all I have to say. They know how to do a carnival in style. 

I kept trying to talk hubby into winning me a Despicable Me unicorn. They were soooo cute and fluffy…. I told him as a high school girl, our priorities were set around having a boyfriend that could win big carnival prizes. His reply was that is why he got a good job so he could just buy me one. Then he promptly pulled out his phone and saw he could buy one on Amazon for $10….

Last weekend I drove all the kids back to St. Louis and we spent almost a week there reconnecting with friends. I think I was just as busy as the kids were seeing everyone. It was a great week and one that brought another huge life change upcoming adventure for me…..

Stayed tuned for Part 2…..

Friday, April 18, 2014

Wondering where I have been?

Yea, I've been wondering the same thing. To make a long story short, as it would read like the perfect script for a reality tv series, we are moving to Milwaukee, WI. Hubby accepted a job with Harley Davidson in December and has been living up there since early January. The boys and I have stayed behind so they could finish the school year.

Needless to say all of this has involved more stresses, fear, and anxiety, with hope all thrown in the mix than I care to relate. I just packed up my workshop in January and shut everything down until after we move. Life has been super crazy and hectic and it just seemed easier to eliminate as many factors that I was capable of in order to cope in the best way possible.

I will be house hunting soon and then it will feel really real. Wish me luck as the market is hot there and the good ones go as soon as they are listed which puts us at a disadvantage. We will be putting our house on the market in a week or so (insert tears:-). It will be listed as soon as the new kitchen granite countertops get installed. Grrrr..... isn't that just typical? I have wanted granite ever since we have lived here. Now that we are moving, we are getting them..... In my mind was thinking we needed to do a total kitchen renovation before getting granite. Sigh, so at least I will get to enjoy it for a month before we move. Oh well, the next house will either have granite or hubby is gonna have to buy it as a prerequisite treat for moving. lol

That is just a brief update of what is going on. I can now say that I've become an expert house painter and house fixer upper. I hope to become a full time bead maker again once we are settled.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Harry Potter and the trip to Warner Brother Studios in London

Yea, I admit it... I'm a huge Harry Potter Fan. I was going through photos of our trip to Europe in July and meant to post London pics but got side tracked with our trip out to the Warner Brother Studios to tour. If you are not a Harry Potter fan this will be a super boring post:-)

My middle child and I ended up having a grand fill of Harry Potter on the trip. We rented an apartment in Piccadilly Circus which was a fab location. It was just a few blocks away from the Theater district. Which just so happened to have Daniel Radcliffe in a theater production of The Cripple of Inishmaan playing while we were there. We had no plans to see any shows but knowing that Harry Potter (yes, he will always be called that by us) was right where we were was just too tempting. So Connor and I bought tickets and saw his performance. The theater was pretty nice and a small size which meant that we were very close to the stage. The play was actually pretty decent too. They had huge irish accents and I was worried we wouldn't be able to understand a word they were saying but after about 15 min it was easier to figure out the dialogue. It was a great mother son bonding moment.

After the show, we wandered outside to the back of the theater and saw a huge crowd standing at the stage doors. It took us about 1 second to realize that we might be able to see the actors leave the theater. So Connor and I of course were all over this opp to maybe get his autograph. Boo hoo no luck getting an autograph or shaking his hand but we did get to stand maybe 4-5 feet away from him. I got him on video barely as he is really short and hard to see over the crowds.

That was certainly an unexpected treat but then a few days later we took the train to the Warner Brothers Studio to tour the lot where they filmed a lot of the Harry Potter films. I swear I think I was walking around with my mouth open most of the time just soaking it all in. There was so much to look at and see from all the movies. This was a taxi that was in downtown London.

 This is the Great Hall. It was amazing.

Another shot of the Great Hall

Of course any other Harry Potter Fan would remember this house!

One of the actual addressed envelopes used in the movie.

Here is the Knight Bus. I never mentioned it but Caiden hates the Harry Potter movies so this wasn't an overly exciting trip for him but he insisted he have his picture taken on the Knight Bus. He just wanted to learned to talk with a British accent. LOL

This was the inside of the Knight Bus

So this is The Hogwarts Bridge. What was interesting is that there was only this one section and the rest of the bridge you see in the movies is computer animated. It's so cool to think we were standing right where all the actors were standing.

Look in the background on the right hand side and you can see the actual chess pieces that were used in the Sorcerers Stone movie

Inside Hagrid's Hut

Harry's Invisibility Cloak

Snape's Potions Class

Ron Weasley's bed. Notice the RW on his suitcase? Harry's bed is the one behind it. They said as the movies went on, the boys got too big for the beds and had to curl up to fit on them.

Gryffindor Common Room

Another shot of the common room.

Here are some of the props. Dobby the House Elf is back there. The book of Monster's and the enlarged hands from Dudley's aunt Marge when Harry blew her up.

This is the inside of the Book of Monsters.

This room is the final place you go before the tour ends. It is a model of Hogwarts and the grounds. Anytime you see an outside  aerial shot of Hogwarts this is actually what you see. The model is actually 2 floors and when you walk around the room you see different views. It was incredible. 

Another view

Well I hope I didn't bore you too much with all of my pics. I have more but will stop there.