Friday, December 9, 2011

December's craft to give back is a...

MAKE AND TAKE!!! Yep, you read it right, this is a very special craft to give back. I would like to thank all of the wonderful women who have helped make this crazy whim work! So, I am inviting anyone who has come to at least one crafting night over to my house on Tuesday, December 20th at 7PM. I haven't decided WHAT the make and take craft is--and even if I had, I wouldn't want to spoil this Christmas surprise! But, you can be sure that it will be gift worthy! Beyond that, you don't want to miss the other great things that happen at craft to give back--namely, hanging out with other amazing women, enjoying some wine and snacks and chatting it up.

Since August, we have been meeting once a month for just a few short hours. In that time, we have created and donated 275 super cute hair accessories, 20 pairs of fancy leggings, 15 fancy long sleeved shirts, 43 warm & cozy winter hats and 52 beautiful necklaces to the Waunakee Neighborhood Connection! I couldn't have accomplished that on my own in a year! Not only have women come to these nights and made crafts, but they have brought home extras and returned them later to donate! I heard through the grapevine that much of what we have donated has been excitedly scooped up--boy does that make my little heart giddy!

If you are feeling a little sad that we won't be creating for a good cause this month, check out Waunakee Neighborhood Connection's site for some really good opportunities to give back right here in our community. They need help with donations and time to provide over 200 families with a Christmas meal--what a need at this time of year! As for craft to give back, we will get back to work in January, coming up with another fun craft idea designed to bring joy and beauty to those who are struggling to meet the necessities in life!
If you have been a part of one of these spectacular evenings and would like to join me on the 20th of December, please let me know so that I make sure I have enough supplies and space set up when you arrive!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Seriously, I am so over the moon excited right now. November's craft to give back night just came to an end--because we ran out of pendants to make into necklaces. In October, at craft to give back night, we made a bunch of pendants. I thought there was NO WAY we would get them all turned into necklaces for the kids shopping night this weekend at Waunakee Neighborhood Connection. I figured we would make what we could--maybe 20 necklaces or so--and then we would save the rest for Mother's Day or something. Well, never underestimate the power of a handful of women! I am telling you, there was so much talking one would have assumed not much else could possibly be accomplished, but that would be incorrect.

We made 51 necklaces tonight! This mean
s that 51 children will be able to pick out a BEAUTIFUL necklace for FREE to give their mom for Christmas! Warms my heart down to my toes! THIS is why I am over the moon excited! Thank you everyone for being willing to learn, willing to work and willing to give of your time once again. Because of you, N's Whims will be able to donate 51 necklaces, a value of at least $1530.00, to those in need right here in Waunakee! I so could not do this alone--it would have taken me FOREVER!

Now it is time for you to get back.
Anyone who has come to a craft to give back night, even if you only made one night, is welcome to come to December's craft to GET back night. I know you haven't been in this to get anything, but I want to show you how much you have warmed my heart these last 5 months. So, instead of craft to give back in December, you will get to come and make to take home with you. I haven't figured out exactly what yet, but I am thinking you all deserve some jewelry ;). How does that sound?! Stay tuned for the date....

Monday, November 21, 2011

Craft to give back--Tuesday, the 29th of November, 7pm

Next Tuesday, the 29th at 7PM--I almost missed scheduling this one it has been so crazy--but, it is one you won't want to miss! Last month, we made beautiful pendants, this month, those pendants become necklaces! The Waunakee Neighborhood Connection puts on an annual shopping night where the kids can come and shop for gifts for their parents for free! These beautiful necklaces created with your hands will be in the shop on December 4th for kids to 'buy' for their moms. How cool is that?! Soooo, we need all hands on deck for this one--especially if you have EVER done any jewelry making before--calling out to Mihalas, Helzer, Piette, and anyone else with even minimal skills. Of course, anyone willing to learn will be put to use as well. Also, I have several pliers, but if anyone has some to bring, please do!! This will be super fun.

Coming in December, we will be doing a special craft to give back--giving back to all of you who have made this happen every month! ANYONE who has come and helped at EVEN ONE craft to give back is welcome to come to December's craft to give back and will be able to make something to take home with you! Woohoo!!! I really appreciate all of you and your willingness to be a blessing to those in our community! Stay tuned for this date!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Becky Dahl is bringing her aprons!

Becky Dahl will be bringing aprons for the 3rd Annual N's Whims Open House this Saturday, from 1-4pm at 1418 Blue Ridge Trail. Isn't the apron above super cute--of course, so is the model! All of her aprons are reversible and are made with 100% heavy-weight cotton. Her aprons are available in three sizes; adult, big kid (6-12) and little kid (2-5).

She is a
lso providing a couple of wine bags for the door prize drawing. You do not have to be present to win the door prizes. Oh, and if you want more than one chance to win, bring a friend! If you are unable to come, but would like to order an apron, Becky can be contacted at 608-215-7285 or

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cdel designs will also be in the house!

Lori Weiderhaft, designer of Cdel Designs, will be at the 3rd Annual N's Whims Holiday Open House this Saturday, the 12th from 1-4pm. She will have her very popular sticky bands in tons of patterns, as well as some shreds (scarves). Lori will be donating a package of two sticky bands for a door prize on Saturday. If you haven't tried her sticky bands yet, you are missing a lovely little item! They are great for working out, as they don't move once you place them in your hair. I have also been known to use them in lieu of a hat on those days where I just don't have it in me to do my hair. Always lovely to find a solution to help you be presentable with little effort! She offers them in so many different patterns and colors that you could literally find one to match every outfit (I speak from experience :). Hello, my name is Natasha, and I am addicted to sticky bands....
See you all Saturday!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Announcing Heidi Horn and her children's decor!

Heidi Horn of Kreations 4 Kids makes custom pieces to add the finishing touches to your children's rooms. These are adorable! She makes everything from painted wooden letters to spell your child's name on the wall, to coordinated painted fan blades for the ceiling fan! You get to choose the font, the colors, the theme--it is really fun! I remember as a child that we could never find my name on barrettes or other trinkets. I remember wanting so badly my name on one of those little license plates (probably even more because I couldn't). Heidi has solved that issue for those children in your life with uncommon names :).

She also has bow hangers, growth charts, matching frames, wall art, you name it, she can probably make it for you! Heidi will have pictures of past projects and you'll special order the item you want to let the little ones in your life know just how special they are!

Heidi wi
ll be donating a Christmas themed card holder for the wall to the door prize drawing! I am a little bummed that I can't throw my name in the hat! I have been looking for a cute solution to the card clutter for several years now.... hint, hint to those who need to shop for me :).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Woot! Kristie Chijimatsu is in the house....

Kristie Chijimatsu, an amazingly talented metals artist (and teacher for my metals class), will be selling her beautiful sterling silver jewelry at the 3rd Annual N's Whims open house! Kristie is offering the earrings above for a door prize--you don't want to miss these! Kristie's jewelry is all hand made--with saws, files, fire, sweat and patience--something I really respect and value these days after dabbling in class!

Chijimatsu has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the Society of North American Goldsmiths Endowment Scholarship–Honorable Mention, UW Haystack Fellowship, Albert Murray Fine Arts Education Grant, Ron D. Anderson Scholarship, Vilas Graduate Fellowship and the Edith L. Gilbertson Scholarship. Chijimatsu attended the UW–Madison and received a BFA degree in 1998. She pursued advanced degrees at the UW, concentrating in Jewelry/Art Metals. She graduated with a MA degree in 2001 and a MFA degree in 2004.

Not only is Kristie super talented, she is also tons of fun! Along with her jewelry, she will al
so be bringing her Arbonne products as she is a district manager for Arbonne. Time to stock up!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2nd Vendor Highlight....

I am excited to announce that Nancy Palmer will be back at the 3rd Annual N's Whims Open House (Saturday, November 12, 1-4pm). She will be selling under two handmade lines, Salt of the Earth (bath salts) and Caroline (children's boutique clothing), as well as the national brand, 31 gifts. She will also be selling hair accessories, including some to match her clothing line.

I love using the eucalyptus and spearmint blend salts for muscle relief to speed up recovery after a tough workout! Nancy is donating a vanilla body scrub from her Heaven Scent line for a door prize. This item sells for $9 and makes an excellent teacher gift! Remember, you do not have to be present to win. You'll get one entry for coming, and an additional for each guest you bring! Can't wait to see you there. Stay posted for more vendor highlights. I have 8 unique vendors for the open house so far. Woot!Link

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween creativity

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of Halloweens past! My parents would ask all 6 of us early in the fall what we would like to be for Halloween. Then, when we had finally settled on our heart's desire, they would magically make it happen. We won many a contest growing up, with our homemade costumes. One year, after much begging, my mom actually dug deep in her wallet and bought me an orphan Annie costume from the store (after I swore I would wear the dress after Halloween, which I never did). I am actually somewhat embarrassed when I look at the pictures from that particular Halloween!
I have decided to continue this tradition with the Lutes ladies! I do buy a piece or two (when the twins were toddlers, I needed to make an exception and buy their lion outfits) and alter some here or there, but the overall effect is going to be something created by us (my parents have often jumped in to help)!

That being said, I thought I would take a stroll down memory lane and share with you the Lutes ladies halloween costumes from the last 7 years...

In 2006, Bella was a train conductor. We needed to come up with a costume that would allow us to pull all three kids, and allow the twins to sleep if needed. So, we made the peapod express. The twins wore a peapod sack with two heads (the only costume I have attempted to sew). The front wagon was the engine, the back wagon was the pea car :D.
The next year, Bella was old enough to walk, so we only needed one wagon. That year, Bella was the lion tamer, and her sisters, the circus lions. Loved this one! My dad did an amazing job with the wagon that year, don't you think?!!!

A few months before Halloween 2008, I found an alligator costume at a garage sale. Since we often call Alli, 'alligator,' I had to buy it! This prompted the year of dressing each of the girls as their nickname. Bella became a 'bella-rina,' Alli an 'alligator' and Milana 'ana banana.'

Halloween 2009, we had moved to the Madison area. Our girls were very into dress-up this year, and some of their favorite options were dresses that Mike's grandmother had sewn for some of Mike's cousins when he was a kid. These dresses became the cornerstone of our costumes this year. Because the dresses looked like they were from the time of pioneers, we went with that theme.
Last year, my girls bucked all of my suggestions for cos
tumes. At first, I was annoyed (this had been so fun for me--deciding their costumes and creating them). But, then I remembered why Halloween was so fun for me as a kid--I got to name it and mom and dad got to make it! So, we went with it. Bella chose strawberry shortcake, Alli wanted to be a cupcake and Milana a love superhero (you know, they spread love all over the world!). Turns out it is great fun to let the girls name my challenge!

This year, m
y girls chose to be strawberry shortcake characters. Bella is being plum pudding, the strawberry shortcake outfit is being re-visited by Alli, and Milana is lemon meringue. Fun, fun, fun! Oh, and a shout out to Mike's mom, Dede, for knitting plum puddings sweater and helping with the leg warmers! I love that they chose a theme this year. This may be the last themed Halloween for a while in the Lutes household, that is unless M and I decide to dress up again! Happy Halloween, everyone! Enjoy the candy, fun and creativity this night brings!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jewelry re-do challenge

A few months back, I entered a do-over challenge through another jewelry designer, Jeannie Dukic. We all signed up, she sent us some of her early pieces that needed to be re-visited. All of us have those, our early attempts at jewelry making--before we found our style, got our groove and mastered our skills. My mom, sweet as she is, still pulls some of mine out and wears them to be supportive. She probably shouldn't :). Anyway, here is a picture of the 'before' necklace:

The pendant is rose quartz, and the beads were various glass beads. Our challenge was to re-work the design, using at least 50% of the original beads and pendant. This necklace posed quite a challenge to me--it was so far from my typical style. I really wanted to re-work it and have it look like a piece that would be hard to pick out amongst the rest of my work in my boutique. I sat on the design for a few weeks, trying to figure out how to use the pendant--the shape baffled me. Eventually, this is what i came up with, I hope you like it. I used a tiny glass vial that my friend, Nicole Mihalas found at a flea market--thanks, Nicole!

This was so fun to make, I got to smash the pendant and several of the beads with my hammer! Towanda (Fried Green Tomatoes reference :)! I then wrapped the neck of the vial with antique brass wire, stringing a tiny green bead in the center of the swirl. I chose an antique brass peanut chain, dangling some more of the beads randomly along the chain. I think it is quite fun how it turned out, and I truly enjoyed the chance to make up my own rules along the way! Thank you, Jeannie, for the opportunity. If you would like to blog hop and check out the other designers' re-do's, here is the list:

Donna's is on Jeannie's blog:








Monday, October 24, 2011

First vendor highlight for N's Whims' 3rd annual Open House

Poplin is going to be in the house! Nicole will be selling various adorable hand-sewn items, ranging from super handy baby items (perfect for baby gifts) to little ways for momma's to stay stylish. If you want to check out Poplin's merchandise, click here! Poplin will be giving away the coffee cozy above and the cute little flower pin below as door prizes, so make sure you fill out a card for the drawing at the open house! You need not be present to win.

Stay tuned for more vendor updates and sneak peeks at their creations and the door prizes they are donating. Woot!

Friday, October 14, 2011

What a really cool give-away!

Gaea ceramic beads are just gorgeous! I need to get my hands on some of these so that they can find their way onto your arms and necks!!! She is hosting a give-away for some bead bundles. SO exciting!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Are you an artist?

Last week a customer asked me if I was an artist....
I immediately let her know I was not trained in art (meaning I did not study it in school), rather, my training is in psychology. She looked at me oddly and I thought about it some more. We both dropped it. Her question and confusion at my response have bounced around in my brain ever since. Am I an artist? I am a crafter, this I do know. I can sell my things at a craft fair, I have learned many of the skills of my craft. But, my jewelry has definitely evolved. When I began stringing beads, I immediately became a crafter. Now, am I more than that?

When I think of other jewelry makers I know, I can easily identify the artists amongst that group--why is it so hard to self-identify? I used to think that if and when I started making my own pendants and beads, I would classify myself as an artist. However, I manipulate my metal pendants, using paints and other mediums--does that count? Seeing as how my 5 year-olds can do the same, I have decided, no. When I learn to make clay pendants or glass beads, will I cross over then?! Or, will I think that I have merely acquired another skill, one that anyone else could learn and master. In my metal-smith class, I drew a design and then sawed out the design on a pendant. Am I now an artist? But, it was just a simple drawing.... Maybe the dilemna is that art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe I don't truly believe that I can claim my jewelry as art--only as craft. Is art a skill or an ability--a magical ability that certain beings are gifted with?! And yet even those magical abilities get better with practice....

I have also had several people comment lately that I should take more pride in my jewelry--don't get me wrong, I really do like what I make. I am proud of each skill I have learned and mastered, and it brings me great joy to figure out how to manipulate something and make it work in a piece. This hobby of mine is so incredibly fulfilling. I can look at my early pieces and truly see and value my growth curve. However, it is just jewelry, and many possess the same skills. Bottom line is, I like what I make, and it makes me happy. If it makes you happy too, BONUS!

I still don't know how to answer the question, "are you an artist." Maybe thinking, "not yet" is what pushes me to learn and grow more.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Woot--check out our pendants from craft to give back night!

Last night was the October meeting of craft to give back--we started working on necklaces for the free store at Waunakee Neighborhood Connection. The intention is to provide super cool gifts for the kiddos to 'buy' for their moms for Christmas. Something the moms would be really excited to receive! Last night was step one of a 2 part series of craft to give backs.

First, Angela was rolling out the raised designs with the cuttlebug. She mastered it, if you ask me! I swear she was enjoying herself--although this picture of her doesn't show it! Next, the pendants were passed on to the other ladies to paint. You can tell how seriously they were taking their jobs by this next picture of Joy and Leah!Align LeftApparently, I wasn't working at all last night--or maybe they were driving me to drink :). While these first pendants were drying, we moved on to some resin pendants. Decorative paper backgrounds were chosen and cut out to fit the pendants and then glued in. I did actually mix the resin and then we set the designs in the resin (see, I did do something!). They are drying nicely now and will be ready to use in a few days.

ela also hammered a few initials on some tiny brass tags so that we can add them to some of the final necklaces. Didn't these turn out cute--the circles remind me of ornaments and the squares of presents. How fun!

Here are a few pictures of their completed pendants--see how easy it is?! You could be crafty, too!!! Once again, I do not think I could choose a favorite out of them--they all turned out stunning!

And, last but not least, here is a picture of the whole crew, actually looking like they were enjoying themselves :D

Thank you, ladies, for all of your hard work and willingness to learn a new skill! Next month's craft to give back, we will be picking out some beads and turning these beautiful pendants into necklaces. Woot! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NEW DATE for October Craft night!

Tuesday, October 11th is the new date for October's craft to give back night. Please let me know if you can attend!

Craft to give back night--HATS!

We enjoyed another successful craft to give back night this week. Here is a picture of the some of the finished hats so far:

Aren't they super cute?! We did not get off to an auspicious start, as I didn't anticipate the difficulty of showing so many people at one time how to use a loom. However, due to the determination of all involved, there are now many women in this neck of the woods who have caught the loom knitting bug! Several even took home extra yarn to make a few more or finish up their hat from Monday night. We also had some fearless embellishers finishing off some hats that Mike's mom, Dede, knitted for the cause. All in all, it was a fun night full of laughter, a bit of frustration and lots of fun chatting. I am so proud of these ladies and the 30+ super cute and warm hats we are going to donate to Waunakee Neighborhood Connection's free store! I can't wait to get the finished ones back (can't wait to see how cute they look) so that I can drop them off next week!
October and November's craft to give back are going to be making necklaces for the children to pick out as Christmas gifts for their moms. Come learn how to make super cool pendants and attach them to chain! October 27th is the next date for craft to give back. Let me know if you would like to reserve a spot. I will need to know how many women so that I can have enough supplies ready.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bead Soup REVEAL!!!!

First off, a shout out to my amazing husband, Mike, who is currently putting our kids to bed so that I can blog about this on our 11th anniversary! Seriously, I can't make this stuff up--Happy Anniversary, my love!
Now, down to business, I am s00000 excited to finally share! These are the beads I received from Pam Ferrari. So many fun items!!!

I have been super busy with my crazy life, so I only got 4 pieces made with the incredible soup I received. The cool thing, is some day, I will get a chance to have another cup of soup or two from these beautiful ingredients! I can't wait!!

I had so much fun with these colors. Here
is a close-up of the first piece I made with one of Pam's gorgeous focals.
I took one of the headpins with a beautiful blue glass end and put it through the center hole of the focal, up through the back and wrapped it around the top. I attached a silver chain behind the glass ball on the headpin and the center of the focal. This was something I had never tried before and it took a few attempts to get it right. I was a bit nervous, because I did not want to waste a single beautiful headpin! After getting the focal how I wanted it, I knew I wanted to add several of the beads that Pam sent me in my soup. She sent such a variety, so I decided to make it an asymmetrical design. I added some Trinity Brass Company chain and findings to Pam's beautiful beads to finish out the design. This necklace took me quite a while to get the end result that I wanted. I really appreciate the opportunity to try new things, use components I hadn't worked with before and time to try and get it right! Knowing that Pam had spent so much time making each of these amazing glass pieces really added to the pressure! I really wanted to do her work justice--without overworking it and having her art get lost in the piece.

After completing the necklace, I was feeling excited, but a bit exhausted. So, I returned to my comfort zone, making a cute little ring that was more my typical style. I used a C-koop flower, filigree ring and two of the beads from the bead soup. I love this, and it was definitely more my style and comfort zone!

The third piece I made was this leather cuff bracelet, using a few filigree from my stash, a flower that I had patinaed awh
ile back with my girls, and one of the beautiful glass beads made by Pam. Again, more within my usual style, I really had fun with this one. After gaining back a bit of confidence, I finally felt ready to tackle the felted balls....

For the fourth piece, I used the felted balls and some beads and findings from my own stash, with a toggle from Pam and made this bracelet. The felt balls were too dense to poke wire all the way through, so I poked the wire through the surface and back out (similar to sewing), and then wrapped the wire with a bead. Turned out to be really fun to figure out how to use these balls! I hope you enjoyed my four servings of soup!

I can't wait to take a peek at all the other designer's ingredients and the soup they created! I hope you will, too! Please visit my partner, Pam Ferrari's blog and check out what she did with the soup ingredients I sent! I am dying to see what she came up with!!! Also, Lori Anderson is our fearless leader on this Bead Soup. Click on her name to be connected to the list to blog hop from!

Friday, September 9, 2011

September's Craft to Give Back Night

This month, we are going to be making some winter hats for boys and girls--I know we don't want to admit winter is coming, but it is darn it! So, come join me on Monday, September 26th to knit and embellish winter hats. My mother-in-law is knitting away as well, and will be providing some hats that will need to be decorated (bows, buttons, etc), if you feel like that is more your niche. If you have never knitted, no worries, it is super easy to do with a loom! Perfect opportunity to learn how to make your little ones a fun, boutique hat to perfectly match their coats! We will meet at my house on the evening of the 26th, starting at 7pm. Let me know if you are planning on coming, so that I can make sure I have enough looms and yarn!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Forgot to reveal the soup I sent :)

She got a bunch of other vintaj findings as well--bead caps, charms, headpins, etc! So fun to share vintaj with others! Can't wait to see what Pam makes with these items!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Our fun applique shirts!

Here are some pictures of the shirts we will be donating after our craft to give back night: