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Thursday, September 11, 2014

We Will Remember!


Today marks the anniversary of 9/11.  It was a day that will be forever burned in our minds even though it's been 13 years.  I can still remember it like it was yesterday.

The day started out like normal.  I was heading to work at the Winston County Journal in Louisville, MS.  I had no TV reception (no cable either) and the radio didn't work in my car. I hadn't heard the news yet.  I sat down at my desk and one of the sales associates was trying to get the radio on the station and we could hear a garbled news report, but just turned it off since we had no reception.  Then the phone rang.  It was our publisher and general manager, Dennis Palmer.  His voice was shaking and urgent.  He said to call the press over in Tuscaloosa and tell them not to print the paper until we resent them the front page and editorial/opinion page.  When I asked why, he paused and began to tell me what was going on.  He asked me to get the news team (which consisted of like one person) out on the street.  He asked us to close the shop and hit the streets as well interviewing everyone we could find about what was going on.  So we did as we were asked.

I went all over the place taking to everyone I could.  No one moved me as much as one of the last people I talked to.  I stopped in at the Western Auto and people were crowded around a large screen TV.  There was an elderly gentleman there in tears.  I asked him if he was okay and needed anything.  He turned to me with this intense pain in his eyes and said, "It's Pearl Harbor all over again."  He wiped his eyes that will forever haunt me and walked out.  This man had clearly seen so much in his long years on this Earth.  This one day shook him to the core as his words and eyes had shaken me.  I had to go back to the office and just sit.  That pain of seeing so many lives lost that was there in this man's eyes still brings me to tears even now.  Then the news came about the Pentagon....

A good friend of mine's son was working at the Pentagon that day.  I called him to see if his son was okay.  He couldn't get in touch with him.  I asked Mr. Crowder if he wanted to come hang out with us at the office so he wouldn't be alone.  He agreed and we waited....and waited....and waited.  He anxiously checked for text messages and emails from his son.  Then finally, an email came from his son.  His son had been sent on an errand and had left the building. As he was on his way to the parking lot, BOOM!  The force and the sound knocked him to the ground unconscious. When he came to, the sirens were blaring and people were screaming.  An emergency worker helped him up and he turned to see the building.  The blast had taken out his department.  Had he not have left when he did, he wouldn't be here today.  So many were not that fortunate.

I think about all those who couldn't get out of the Twin Towers.  Those poor innocent lives taken in such a violent act.  I think about the rescue workers who died in the line of duty.  I think of their families and how hard it must have been and still is to keep going.  When they went to work that day, they had no idea what would transpire.  They had no idea that their lives would be required of them.  No one is promised tomorrow.

So much about that day is still uncertain.  So much about now is uncertain.  What I do know is that we as a nation came together as one for the first time in a very long time.  There were no racial or class lines.  We were one.  We stood as one.  We spoke as one. We dusted ourselves off and stood tall, as one.  When 9/11 happened, we stood together as a nation praying on its face to an Almighty God.  We held hands in prayer vigils with complete strangers, cried on their shoulders, hugged them and shared our hearts with them.  We held the hands of Buddhist, Hindi and even Muslim Americans with heads bowed in prayer.  We knelt beside our fellow Americans, and we didn't see the color of their skin.  We saw only our fellow Americans.

After a few months, it all went back to normal.  Everything that had blinded us as a nation to the terror that had been at the doorstep and creeping inside blinded us again.  We complained about our jobs and the government. We moaned about the rising costs of milk and eggs. We whined about how high our electric bill was.  We blamed each other for our problems. The unity was lost.

As we look back and reflect on the day that took so much out of us and yet gave us so much, may we recognize that we must stand as one and be united again less that day repeat itself.  We have become so closed off to each other once again. We are prideful.  We think nothing can touch us.  We think that we will always have tomorrow.  Again, NO ONE is promised tomorrow.

How will you be remembered?  Will you be remembered in the ranks of those who gave all for this country to be FREE?  Will you be remembered as the one who always had a smile and a kind word for those around you?  We are remembered for our deeds long after our words have been forgotten.  What does your deeds say of you? Are you the one that always has a complaint about the boss or the one with the latest gossip?  Are you the one that always picked on the odd kid in school and still pick on those you think are less than you?  Are you the one you always takes from others and never gives anything in return? Or are you the one that speaks life to your fellow man? Are you the one who stands up for the weak when they are being trampled on? Are you the one who seeks the face of the Almighty on behalf of your neighbor, your church, your pastor, your state, and the nation?

If you don't like what your deeds say of you, it's far more easier to change than you think.  Begin with the little things.  Give away the thinks in life that are free like a smile, a hug, a pat on the bag, a kind word, a laugh at a stupid joke, love.  Give away something of yourself.  Give away time. Give away your life.  You may say that these things may cost you something, but the reward of which more than covers the expense.  It's never to late to change.  It's never too late to begin again.  Open your heart to the possibility that there is so much more that you have been missing.  Don't change for anyone but yourself.  Make the change for you!  No because someone says so or that someone commands it.  Show love always.

Yeah, it sounds like I'm about give you an invitation to change religions.  What I propose to you is NOT religion, but a relationship. A relationship not only with your fellow man, but with the Man that gave it all and forever marked history.  It's not religion, but a lifestyle.  It's an act of putting others before yourself.  If you are brave enough to jump off the deep end, then I invite you to jump with me.  Yes, I am a Christian.  I make no bones about it.  I live my life as best as I can in accordance to the Will of God.  Do I fail?  Oh yeah. Sometimes, miserably. But that's the beauty of the forgiveness of Christ.  I don't have to be perfect.  I just have to try my best.  I just have to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  That's it.  When I became a Christian, did everything automatically get better? NO!  But things did change.  Some things were gradual and others instantaneous. It was like someone turned on a light switch and I could see so much more clearly.  I have peace even in the most horrible of circumstances.  It's a peace I can't explain.  When 9/11 happened back in 2001, I was saddened by the events and the loss of life.  But I had peace in the midst of it. It's hard to explain and even harder for someone to grasp that has never had that kind of peace.  My friend and I prayed for the safety of his son while we waited to hear.  He had that same peace.  You see my friend and his son were and still are Christians as well.  Did Christians die during 9/11?  Yes, as did Buddhists, Hindi, atheists, agnostics and even Muslims (that had nothing to do with the terror attacks).  But there is only one that offers eternal security.  The choice is yours.

It all boils down to this, do you know what will happen if you were to draw your last breath today?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

All Daintyfied and Super Cute!


Part of the fun of being a Creative Circle Ambassador for Cousin Corporation for America is getting to play around with some of the new product lines before the public gets to see them and design projects to go around those product lines.  Here are two (one easy, one a bit harder) projects using the new daintyfied™ line due to hit Michaels Craft Stores on August 15th.  The daintyfied™ program is comprised of itty, bitty charms and small, thin chains and bangles to serve as the bases.  A mixture of silver and gold charms, chains and bases provide the platform for hundreds of combinations to create and to get your creative juices flowing.


Project One:
daintyfied™ Freespirit Charm Bracelet




Tools:
Two Pair Chain Nose Pliers

Materials:
daintyfied™ #34778252 Bangle
daintyfied™ #34778226 "free" charms (or charms of your choice)

Craft Time:
5 minutes

Skill: Beginner

Jump Rings

Remove the charms and bracelet from packaging.  Attach the charms to the open loop on the bangle with their jump rings.  You can also just slide the charms on to the bangle itself so you can have interchangeable charms as well.



Project Two:
daintyfied™  Charmed Ring







Tools:
Two Pair Chain Nose Pliers
Round Nose Pliers
Ring Mandrel or Large Barreled Marker
Flush Cutters
Ruler
Rawhide Mallet (Optional)

Materials:
daintyfied™ #34778226 "faith" charms (or charms of your choice)
22 gauge Craft Wire (I used Artistic Wire Non-Tarnish Brass)
Head Pins in a finish that matches your wire and charms.
4mm Crystals or Beads (I used Jewelry Basics #34721016)

Craft Time:
25 minutes

Skill: Intermediate Wire Wrapping

Jump Rings
Forming Loops
Wire Wrapping

Remove the charms from packaging and set aside.  Make four bead dangles by threading a 4mm bead onto a head pin and forming a loop.  Set aside.

Measure, cut and straighten 36 inches (91.44 cm).  Place round nose pliers at the center point of the wire and create a loop. 

Determine the size of ring you want to create and place the wire against the ring mandrel or marker barrel at the underside of the loop.  Wrap the wire ends around the mandrel two times each forming a ring shank. 

Take one wire end and bend at a 90ยบ angle.  Wrap around the ring shank five times.  Trim excess wire.  Repeat for the other side of the ring.  Push any rough edge of the wire down using the tip of your chain nose pliers.

Slide the ring back onto the mandrel to ensure that it is still round.  Hammer lightly with a rawhide mallet to harden the shank.

Attach the charms to the loop of the ring. 








 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Bella Amore Legacy Jewelry: Helping My Brother In His Fight Against Brain Cancer

If you have ever faced having cancer or a loved one with cancer, then please pray for this family.  They are a close knit group that would give the shirt off their backs for anyone.  I ask that you pray for them.  If you feel the desire to help them in their fight in other ways, please do so.



Bella Amore Legacy Jewelry: Helping My Brother In His Fight Against Brain Cancer

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Christmas In July Festive Zipper Pull

The heat is on here in Mississippi, but that won't stop me from thinking about Christmas.  After all, the holiday is only five months away.  I am starting to see Christmas items pop up every where now.  There is a new set of items making their way to Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores and A.C. Moore.  'Tis the Season by Cousin Corporation of America has put out some very lovely new Christmas and Halloween items due out next week or so.

Anyway - TUTORIAL TIME!  This will only take about 20 minutes and is very simple.  If you have a good solid skill set in jewelry making or crafting, you should have no trouble with this tutorial.
We will be making two zipper pulls.  One will be a Christmas tree out of buttons and the other a simple snowflake with dangles.



Supplies:

'Tis The Season Glass/Acrylic Accent (#31112055)
'Tis The Season Metal Charms (#31112049)
20 Gauge Craft Wire
2 Large Lobster Claw Clasps - one silver, one gold
Eye Pin
4 Gold Head Pins

Tools:
Flush/Side Cutters
Bail Making Pliers or a Small Marker Barrel
Round Nose Pliers
Flat Nose Pliers

Skills Needed:
Wrapped Loop
Forming Loops
Wire Wrapping

Festive Christmas Zipper Pulls Instructions:
Cut about 7 or 8 inches of craft wire.  Slide the wire through the holes of the buttons from #31112055 in order to form a tree.

Fold the wires at a 90 degree angle to the right.  Take the left wire and bend again at another 90 degree angle.

Wrap the right hand wire around the bend twice.  Trim the wrapping wire. Slide on a few of the crystal dangles from #31112055 in any order you like (save 5 for your next pull).

Slide on the star bead from #31112055. Begin to form a loop using your bail making pliers or marker barrel.  Before you wrap the loop slide on the lobster claw clasp.  Finish your wrapped loop and trim any extra wire.

*NOTE: I like using the swivel lobster claw clasps because they give a bit of action to the zipper pull.





Snowflake Zipper Pull Instructions:

Attach an eye pin to the opening of the snowflake charm from #31112049.  Using the left over five bead dangles from #31112055 and remove them from their head pins.  Make four new dangles with these beads by sliding them onto gold head pins and forming loops at the end. Take the left over bead and slide it onto the eye pin.  Slide on the new dangles.  Begin to form your loop, slide on the lobster claw clasp and then wrap your loop.  Trim off any access.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Open, Closed, or Split - Choosing the Best Jump Ring for Your Project

Jump rings are very important jewelry findings.  They provide a means to connecting pieces that wouldn't ordinarily be able to connect. They can vary in sizes, gauges and styles. Your design will dictate which jump ring to use for each project. It can be confusing when trying to pick the right one especially when you are looking at Open, Closed, and Split jump rings. Hopefully, this post will help you choose the right one for your project.

Open Rings 

Open Sesame:  An open jump ring is one that has a cut in it that allows you open and close it as to connect pieces together.  Open jump rings are used in Chainmaille designs and can be grouped in clusters.

To open a jump ring, use two sets of pliers (chain or flat nose).  If you only have one set, you can hold the other side with your fingers or use a jump ring opener.  When opening a jump ring, open with a twist.  It's like a push/pull action.  Push in one direction and pull in the other.  Never open a jump ring by pulling the sides apart.  It will warp the ring.  To close it back, just twist.  You should hear a slight grading of metal on metal when you close the jump ring correctly.
Jump Ring Opener available at Prima Bead


To use the Jump Ring Opener, slide it onto a finger on your non-dominant hand. Insert the jump ring into the closest fitting slot on the jump ring opener.  Using your chain nose pliers or fingers, gently open one side in a downward direction. The tool will help you stabilize the jump rings while you work on them.






See the video below for more technique.




Closed Rings


Closed Up Shop:  Closed jump rings have been soldered shut and have no way of opening them.  These are perfect for adding dimension to dangle earrings.  Use them as a connector for your eye pins and head pins to connect to.  I use them as the an "eye" for clasps.  When I have finished my beading, I slide the wire through the ring and crimp.  It provides a more secure connection for the clasps.  These can come in various styles and shapes and are often referred to as connector links.


 Split Rings

Split Personality: A split ring resembles a miniature key ring.  Split rings provide a stronger connection than open jump rings and offer an opening that closed jump rings cannot.  You can also use these for more secure connections of charms on a charm bracelet.  I find it has more stability and security than regular jump rings when attaching beading wire to a clasp.

There are a few ways to open them.  The first way is to insert a fingernail to open a split ring and slide a head or eye pin shaft to help you hold the spring ring open a you thread on your clasp, bail, or connector.  Once started, pull the pin out of the way, then finish twisting the split ring on.  The second way to open them is using a set of special pliers for split rings or a set of split ring tweezers.

Pliers available from Prima Bead
Tweezers available from Beadaholique
To use a pair of split ring pliers or tweezers, place the split ring on the flat side. As you close the pliers or tweezers, press the pointed side between the rings of the split ring. Once you have a grip on the split ring, you can slide it around until the end is securely open with room to add your charm, clasp, or whatever else you may be attaching.  Slide the object that you are attaching to the split ring onto the open end. Hold the object in your fingers and use flat nose pliers to work the split ring around to the other side, where the object will dangle freely.



Check out the video below. For more information.



My hope is that this information will help you choose the right jump ring for the right project.  Happy beading!


Unless otherwise credited, all photos and videos are from Prima Bead and Cousin Corporation.






Sunday, June 15, 2014

DIY: Ribbon Bead Earrings

Love the look of ribbon jewelry?  Then you will love this tutorial.  It's easy and simple.  There are no major skills required at all.  All you need is a bit of imagination to create these lovely earrings.



Skill Level:
Beginner

Skills Needed:
Opening Jump Rings

Materials:
Two 8mm Split Rings
Ear Wires
2 Large Holed Beads
Ribbon
Fray No More or product similar

Tools:
Scissors
Ruler
Flat/Chain Nose Pliers
Collapsible Eye Needle


Measure and cut two pieces of ribbon around 8 inches long.  Open the loop at the bottom of the ear wires and slide on a split ring. Close the loop.  The reason I used split rings instead of regular jump rings is the split rings are more stable and can hold up under rough handling.  Go ahead and repeat for the other ear wire.

Slide the ribbon into the split ring.  Slip on the collapsible eye needle onto both ends of the ribbon.  Slide the needle into the opening of the bead and out the other side.  Pull completely through and slide the needle off.  

Slide the bead up the ribbon and tie an overhand knot just up from the end of the ribbon.  Coat the ends of the ribbon with the Fray No More.



Repeat for the other earrings.  Wear them in style.












Saturday, June 14, 2014

DIY: Collapsible Eye Needle

Here is an easy DIY tutorial for a collapsible eye needle.  It seems I always need them. I never have them, so I decided to make my own on the fly.  They work pretty well.

Skill: BEGINNER

Materials & Tools:
Round Nose Pliers
Flush Cutters/End Nippers
26 gauge or smaller craft wire


Cut about 10 inches of craft wire.  Place your round nose pliers at the center point of the wire about midways down the beak of the pliers. 

Cross the wire ends over each other.  Begin twisting the wire (not wrapping) until you reach the desired length.  Trim ends.  Slide the needle off the pliers.  Straighten and use until you wear it out.