Monday, May 30, 2011

jewelry roundup

Perhaps i've mentioned that i love jewelry.
Really, i do.
I love it.
And it doesn't matter to me whether it is "valuable" or not; in fact, i like to pay as little for things as possible. What matters to me when it comes to jewelry is that something is pretty or cool or different or makes a statement.
 I'm attracted to shiny objects like a magpie.
Since i have been compelled to share new pieces or handmade pieces or just pieces i like here in the Nikiverse in the past, i decided to do a little feature called The Jewelry Roundup every few weeks to highlight the fun things i've been doing with accessories.
Of course, i decided this back in like February and faithfully started taking pictures.
Then life got busy and the pictures sat.
And sat.
And sat.
Soooooo... this first one will be a bit longer than subsequent ones, i hope, and features pictures in the snow, in the sun and everything in between.

I've inherited some amazing vintage pins that are a bit larger than what i would normally wear on a shirt, like this great silver leaf. But it is just the right size to be a focal accessory to bring out the silver thread in a purple scarf when i use it as a ponytail holder.

I found this large, but delicate pearly and rhinestone flower spray for $4 and nestled it along an extra large open bun to go with a cream sweater.

More often than i might like to admit, my outfit choices are laundry dependant;
 one day the only shirt that both matched the pants i wanted to wear and was clean had a neckline that is a touch more plungee than i favor for work. This vintage red, white and blue enamel flower pin  normally only comes out for Fourth of July, but it was perfect to make the outfit appropriate for the office.
Plus it gave me a chance to wear this 9-strand bracelet of vintage angled beads that i recycled from a broken necklace.

some jewelry really is holiday specific
This key pin with its encased four-leaf clover comes out every March 17th.
no pinching please
 I'm not Irish or Catholic and i don't like beer -green or otherwise- so St Patrick's Day holds no special place in my heart, but there are those vicious pinchy pinchertons out there who are looking for people not wearing green, so this year i pinned my clover key across a braided bun.

While sorting through a 25 pound box of broken and discarded jewelry i came across this:
What in the world is that? The mid-tone floral cloisonne pegs it as being from the mid-80's and the curved clasp makes me think scarf pin, but i don't remember ever seeing anything like it before. I didn't want to get rid of it cause i have a shirt that is the exact same shade of purple as those flowers, but I wasn't really sure how i could wear it since i have no clue how it is intended to be worn and it is too small for the obvious use as a ponytail bob.

Inspired by the age of the piece i decided to pull back just the fronts of my hair into a side ponytail, side-sweeping my bangs along with it. It took several tries to get just the right amount of hair that the piece would hold and not slip.

I love repurposing items.

The team was going out to see TM Adam's band. I was wearing a black sweater with a red tank (yes, it was because that was what was clean) that just begged for some blingy interest. I have one of those hematite magnetic chains with red crystals that i'd never worn. I tried it as a bracelet and it looked good, but the only necklace that matched was a late 90's chain bib that looked dated instead of funky.
Switch up jewelry location:
it nicely cuffed over the sleeve
or fell over my hand while dancing

With that much going on at the throat and wrist i didn't want to wear any earrings,
but still wanted just a touch of color above the neck so among the messy loops of my pinned hair i tucked in a single vintage red crystal clip earring.

When using clip earrings as hair jewelry, i've always favored wearing both, but in the last few months i've noticed myself making different choices, using just one as an accent.

I couldn't really imagine how i'd use this single plain round gold clip from the 25 lb junk box so it was relegated to the To Be Altered pile; when i picked it up to rip off the clip i imagined using it on a scrapbook page to hold a swirl of fibers, like a button and said to myself Wouldn't it be cute if it looked like i had buttoned up my hair? Voila! 

Clip earring are so versatile and the vintage ones are gorgeous. I was wearing dark blue jeans with a lighter blue sweater and was able to find among my many, many clips a pair with the same shades of blue stones.
BONUS - i'd never worn them before
 I wasn't inspired to use them in my hair, but i'd remember when Grosgrain was doing tutorials on shoe sugar and thought i'd give it a shot. I clipped them at the edge of the strap on a pair of Mary Jane-ish flats and then did a few loops and knots with some heavy thread to make sure they'd would accidentally dislodge.

Pretty, easy and it made me smile all day even when my feet were tucked under my desk so i was the only one who knew they were there.

The truly great thing about jewelry is that it can alter a look or change an outfit easily and cheaply, especially when you are inventive. See this fabulous fore-finger ring? {side note: i love the look of a ring sitting between the first two knuckles, though i know some people really do not like it; i guess it is one of those things like cilantro or peas or monkeys - you either love it or hate it}

Notice how the stone is the exact same color as the sweater i am wearing? That, my friends, is a broken, discarded hoop earring from the junk box. Gorgeous, unique and less than 1 cent.
Unfortunately, we live in a disposable society. Well, unfortunate in general, but fortunate for me cause i will happily take others cast-offs and make them into something new. Sometimes, you don't even have to make any changes, cause the broken bits can add character.
This incredible vintage double-strand necklace is made of heavy, beautiful glass beads;. the darker pink glass stripe on some of them is the same color as a tank i own. I was able to add it to my collection for ONE DOLLAR because the awesome metal flower clasp has one petal missing.

Honestly, would you even have noticed the imperfection if i hadn't pointed it out? Deals like that make me smile cause i feel like i've saved a thing of beauty from certain doom, plus i get to pair this great necklace with the matching tank and a black cardigan.

And finally, for this inaugural installment of The Jewelry Roundup, i have pictures of me wearing an actual vintage hair clip. I put so many other things in my hair that were never intended to be there that when i spotted this amazing AB (aurora borealis) faceted crystal hair clip i snatched it up.
That was about 4 years ago. I was at a loss as to how to wear it. One day when my bangs had curled just right i wanted to pull back some of my hair away from my face and it was time for the hair clip's debut. I paired it with dangling teardrop AB crystal earrings to compliment a dark red sweater. 
phew... that was a lot of pictures of sparkles and hair for those of you who couldn't care less.
I hope to do a Roundup whenever i have 5 or 6 looks to share so that the posts won't be quite so long.
Stay tuned.

Memorial Day

It's not about mattress sales or barbeques.
It's about men and women who have died to protect us.
Every year when Colleen and I go on adventure in DC over the holiday weekend there are reminders of why today is a national holiday. This year we were going to the National Building Museum (which will have its own post) and we didn't know how to get there besides an address and a metro stop. Coming up to street level in the elevator we were greeted by this:

In fact, there were two sets of giant lionesses guarding cubs along one side of the round plaza  in which we found ourselves. On the opposite side there were two huge male lions, each watching over their own sets of cubs:

Turns out that the metro elevator at Judiciary Square comes up in the Nation Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial. Around the edges are the names of officers who have died in the line of duty. In honor of Memorial Day this year, the Nam Knights had placed a plaque in the middle.

Even having fun out in the sunshine on adventure with my Leenie, it was nice to take a moment to reflect.
Thank you to everyone who risks the ultimate sacrifice to allow me to live the life i want. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

being 40

This month i celebrated my 40th birthday.
I've been alive for 40 years.
I've reached middle age.
Shouldn't i feel different?
Aren't i suppose to feel different?
Cause really, i don't.
In fact, 40 doesn't bother me a bit.
The only milestone birthday that ever bothered me was 18.
Yes, 18.
18 made me nuts, made me question everything i believed about myself, made me act reckless; basically, i had my mid-life crisis at 18. By that logic, my life-span would be 36 years so honestly, every year after 36 is a bonus year. There is no reason, in my mind, to be upset about The Big 4-0 because it is a right sight better than the big dirt nap.
I was talking to a friend who had been working on a Things To Do Before I'm 30 list and it got me thinking. It seems like a lot of the fun life experience lists are about getting things done before you turn a certain age, like you expire at that age or something. I think that it helps reinforce society's construct that we all have a Best By date stamped on our butts.
Screw that.
I don't accept that.
To celebrate that i am 40, i have constructed a 40 Things to do While I'm 40 list that can be found here. Some of the items i can finish at anytime, but others will take me the whole year. A few items might earn me gold stars, while others expand on resolutions. They all will help me focus on being present in my own life this year.
What do you want to accomplish between your birthdays this year?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

perhaps we shouldn't have waited until we were starving to order take-out

no, we're not having other friends over for dinner; why do you ask?
note: Leenie and I often eat Thai when we are together, so tonight we intentionally tried a few new items, including papaya salad, Crying-Tiger-something-something-steak and 2 types of Yakitori

chilin' on the roof

Memorial Day weekend means hanging with my Colleen. This is the first time i've spent any real time in her new house. As we were making sammiches for lunch she suggested going to the rooftop terrace.
What, what, what?
There's a rooftop terrace on this building?
Yes, please.
sun, snacks, reading and my Colleen... what a relaxing start to the holiday weekend.
Plus, the terrace faces into the residential part of Arlington so there is a lovely view as well
You can almost forget that you are in the middle of a bustling 'burg.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

even more "...and other duties as required"

I feel like these pictures don't even need a story beside the general knowledge that they were taken at 7:35am, that road is a major thoroughfare between Baltimore and Washington, we were supposed to be at our school at 8am and the guys in the picture are TM Adam and the head of maintenance, Lee.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

don't ask questions unless you are ready for answers

There are no elk in Maryland.
This is an important fact to know because there are a bunch of places in Maryland with the word elk as part of the name: Elkridge, Elkton, Big Elk, Little Elk, Elk Neck, Elkview, Elk Valley, Elkwood, Elk Mills, Elk Ranch, Elkmore, etc.
Adult safety partner Ashley and i were at an elk school last week and it got us thinking about names. As we sat watching the water flow past on the Elk River at a boat landing in Elk Neck State Forest we looked at the map to figure out this whole elk-phenomenon. There is an Elk Creek and the Elk River, plus right across the line in Pennsylvania there is an Elk Township, but WHY?
Elk don't live in Maryland. I feel pretty confident that it is too temperate for elk to have ever lived here; at least not in the last 300 years. And i am very confident that if they don't live here, they don't live 25 miles away in Pennsylvania, either.
Ashley and I went back to the school for our second show full of sunshine and giggles about the complete lack of elk in this elk-name infested area. We had closed the stage curtains and turned of all of the lights before we left, so imagine our surprise when we walked onto the stage and there was an open door in the corner -that neither one of us had even noticed in the moring- with light streaming out of it framing...
Yes, that is a giant elk stalking us from backstage.
Where did it come from?
How did that door get opened?
Who turned on the light?
And how big was this dang elk?

Really, really big.
Compare it to Ashley.
This elk was so huge that she could barely fit into the frame with it.
Never again will i tease the ancient namers about their less-than-obvious naming choices because i have learned that somehow, some way they will hear me and send a giant elk to scare the bejeezus out of me.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


okay... crisis might be a bit strong.
There are some technology problems pulling pictures from my camera onto the computer and i can't tell yet where the failure is occurring. Soooooo, lots of posts that need pictures and no pictures.
Okay, once i finish next year's budget (mayhaps tomorrow-ish) i will invest some time in figuring out what the what.
See you then.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I believe in miracles

Mayhaps you recall that one of my best friends from college had preemie twins, born at only 27 weeks gestation:

This past weekend, James and Matthew celebrated their second birthday.
The Nikiverse's May charity will be the UNC Children's Hospital in honor of them. For boys who did not have the best chance at survival in the beginning they have certainly turned out to be rambunctious toddlers, whose adventures can be followed here. This miracle is in no small part due to their stay at one of the best NICUs (neonatal intensive care units) in the country. I was very impressed with the facility when i visited them about a month after they were born and hope that my tiny donation will help other families come home healthy and happy.
Happy Belated Birthday to the boys and Well Done to Mike and Mel!

Monday, May 16, 2011

God weighs in on my habit of buzzing deadlines

I am good at meeting deadlines, but i tend to get things finished at the 11th hour. It's the way i've always operated and generally it works for me; however, it does mean that it makes me vulnerable to outside forces.
The art show was from noon to 5pm on Sunday, but as part of the organizing committee i needed to be there at 8am to start turning the room.
I had a detailed, succinct plan on how to finish all of my promotional things, get cards made to sell, finish 2 of the 4 pieces in process in my studio so that i would exhibit 3 pieces total, and still manage to get 4 hours of sleep. It was an inspired schedule, if i must say so myself.
Then, the power went out at 1am Sunday morning.
Yes, the lights blinked twice and then the neighborhood went dark.
Pitch dark.
Here i am finishing the title cards by the light of a Coleman lantern:
Who could make this stuff up?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

a quick breather

I'm taking a quick break from finishing title cards for tomorrow's show and thought i'd drop in to say HI to the Nikiverse; i feel like its been forever since i spent any real time writing here, but i am delighted with all the new experiences i'm having in the world. Okay, delighted might be a bit strong for some of those challenges, but i am certainly not bored!
Here's what's going through my mind right now:
- i think i am going to forget about finishing the painting for tomorrow and do a collage instead
- i want to have at least 8 new cards for the show as well
- i never posted the pictures of my vendor's table at the scrapbooking crop last month; i realized yesterday that i inadvertently deleted those pictures from my camera; i just got confirmation from my dad that he found copies on his computer from when i was at his house
- the butterfly sunglasses on my birthday purple pony look a little like blinders; it's kinda freaking me out
- my teeth taste like lunch; i need some gum but don't have any in my desk
- Pat Benatar really had a lot of hits; her voice is awesome
- i wonder if i should print the artist list on colored paper; white is just so... so... white
- i need to get something for the refreshment table and pull my pretty pitcher to have an extra water pitcher
- do i have time for a quick nap?
- i like showing in the exhibition and i like helping to set up the exhibition, but i think doing both for the same exhibition might be a bit too much
- i went to an Orioles game Thursday night with people from work, including the 2 TMs who are leaving in the next weeks, but forgot to take any pictures... sigh...
- maybe i should finish that painting instead of the collage
- i have a chance to do a jewelry display at an upcoming national yard sale thing and can't wait to finish the line of recycled rings i have been working on
- i need to get some ring blanks
- and more metal glue
- wait; don't think about the jewelry show; you've got to finish the art show first
- i haven't changed my quote this week; but this is the first time i've missed it this year
- ohhhhh, i haven't named a May Charity yet, either; dangit!
- 17 hours till i need to start setting up the exhibition; 22 hours until the door opens
- ducklings are adorable, but shouldn't hang out in parking lots

- enough break young lady; back to it

Come visit me at the 2nd Annual Catonsville Art Exhibition from noon to 5 tomorrow (Sunday May 15, 2011) at the Bloomsbury Community Center in Catonsville. I will have 1-3 pieces exhibited and we'll all be surprised which ones make the cut.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Another birthday come and gone

Thanks to all who helped celebrate the High Holy Day of the Nikiverse.
With an upcoming art exhibition there seems to be a distinct lack of time to write, so instead enjoy a few slices of this delicious birthday collage.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

a new level of love

While i was at my mom's house i found a whole new level of love: i love you so much i'll rescreen your door. You see, my mom -like many Floridians- has a screened-in porch off of her living room. Years ago my dad and uncle put new screening into all of the panels, but the screen on the bottom of the door had ripped from age and weather. I saw the rip when i was there in February, but had bigger things on my mind so i knew that this trip i wanted to do a repair. Basically, only one corner had ripped so i figured i would just use my best friend -duct tape- to do an unpretty but functional repair. Unfortunately in the ensuing time, the entire bottom had ripped out.
Okay, when dad and Uncle Jim did this before i remember that they bought a special little wheelee tool that zipped the screen into the channel. I also remember that they were amazed at how easy it was to do, so when i saw that mom had bought a new piece of screen i figured i'd give it a go.
But she didn't know where the zippy wheel was.
One afternoon while she was napping i went into the shed and searched and searched and searched. i found what i believed might be the wheelee thing in the back of a box marked pliers; you know, exactly where one would look for it.
Okay, i've got screen and i've got a wheelee-ma-jig; let's see how they go together.
In trying to get out the old screen i found that there was some rubber stripping holding the screen into the channels.
Back to the shed we go.
 I found several different sizes and shapes of black rubber stripping that might or might not be the right stuff so i  took it all to the work site. After comparing the old, shrivelled, sun-damaged, nasty stripping to the various items at hand i decided that one of them was indeed the correct stuff.

Now for the, according to my male elders, easy part: line up the screen and the rubber strip stuff [in relating this story to my father her informed me that the rubber stripping is called spline; yes, s-p-l-i-n-e. spline. say it out loud: SPLINE. Sounds like he made that up, right?], and zip right down with the wheelee [no word on a made up name for this one] and ta-da, you've got a screen in place.
It's that easy?
Of course it isn't that easy.
The screen needs to be held in place and then pulled taut. The spline has to be held in place and then fed into the channel. Someone has the use the wheelee-o, plus cut the spline in the correct place because it is not one continuous channel, but a separate channel for each of the four sides.
That's at least 5 hands by my count, leaving Niki a few appendages short.
But, i am a tool user so i ran back to the shed to grab some extra-wide painters tape [my beloved duct tape would have been too adhesivey] to be one set of hands, used my knee as the pulling hand and eyeballed the spline to cut it to the correct length before i started to wheel it.
That should have solved all the problems, right?
Of course not, silly-billy.
You see, the spline has 2 sides that are barely, almost imperceptibly different. Plus it seems to matter which side of the channel you start it on. OH, and if you wheelee too hard you can cut the screen accidentally, negating the purpose of putting in new screen all together.
After many, many trials and errors i finally got the hang of it. I was able to repair the door and put new spline in the panel next to it as well.
Sooooooo, if you really, really, really love someone you should use the phrase, I love you enough to rescreen your door.
Or if you've come to the point in the proceedings where you need to tell someone that perhaps this relationship isn't going to make the long haul you could say something like, I really enjoy spending time with you and you make a dynamite chicken marsala, but let's face it, i'm just not going to rescreen your porch.
For myself, i think that rescreening the door might be a level of love that only applies to someone who actually grew me in their body.
Honestly, it was almost as good as flowers for Mother's Day.
[needless to say, this definitely counts as a new thing]
[i'd also like to go on record that i did this entire project while wearing a sundress; that has to count extra, dontch think?]

Saturday, May 7, 2011

i do love a challenge

While i was in Florida last month i celebrated Easter with my mom.
We decided a few months ago to issue an Easter Basket Challenge, akin to the Christmas challenges. Basically, we decided to do Easter baskets for each other, but could only spend $10 each. Mom repurposed 2 baskets from the cupboard and filled them with shredded, pastel tissue paper so they were free.We agreed to spilt the cost of eggs and dye and not count it towards the $10 cause we just had to dye Easter eggs on Saturday night. [you can see some of the extras that did not end up in baskets displayed in the china hutch]
It was so fun to have to stick to a budget while being creative and it was an embarrassment of riches with chocolate, cookies, fruit, jelly beans, dyed eggs, windchimes, bath products, frappachino, tea mugs and more silly, fun candy that you only allow yourself to eat once a year:
I never ceased to be amazed at how easy it is to turn thrifty into fabulous when you add a little joy.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

serious about proper beveraging

You know how much i love taking a jaunt in the golf cart when visiting my dad, but i have to admit that until recently i never really noticed that there were actually operating instructions on the steering wheel.
I was confused by the very first one, Read the warning label on the beverage holder panel before operating. I mean, how hard can it be to use a beverage holder?

Of course i turned my attention to the beverage holder which very alarmingly declared that DEATH OR SEVERE PERSONAL INJURY CAN RESULT FROM FAILURE TO FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS in all capital letters.
Well that's not good.
I never realized that i was taking my life into my hands by enjoying a Diet Coke while on neighborhood patrol.