Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Curly hair--who knew?!

I have been waiting to update you all on my health because I am ever hopeful that next week will be the one that I can say, "I've got this!" All good, clean bill of health, on top of things again, full of energy, a creating madwoman, WOOOHOOO! But then, are we ever really there?! My husband, the astute man that he is, once said that in order to truly excel at one thing in life, you have to let the others go a bit. Instead, he has decided to aim for pretty good in all areas. Not a bad goal, if you ask me ;). And, frankly, in doing so, he actually is amazing and not too stressed out. Yes, I will admit, I can still learn a lot from him--beyond appreciating sushi, scotch and chocolate! 

I also realized that in not updating at all, it has left many of you wondering how I am doing, possibly worrying that things haven't improved. The reality is that things have improved--immensely, even! My energy levels are at about 80% of normal (which, if you know me in real life, is probably about normal ;). I feel better than I ever have on a day to day basis without gluten and milk or cream in my diet. I am much less crabby, which is great for those of you who do know me in real life. And, the bleeding from the fibroid has diminished greatly. Every time I get a week that is free of bleeding, I am ready to declare this battle over--only to wake up one day to more. So, it isn't over, but this is so much more doable than before. Acupuncture, chinese herbs and a diet change have been the keys to this improvement. I have actually been able to lower my medication levels to half of what I had previously been taking to control the PCOS. 

As I am typing this, I am realizing that once again, it is the hardship that has pushed me out of my comfort zone, allowing me to find a better alternative. I was previously on the highest levels of medication to control my PCOS. It was allowing me to live symptom free, but it left no "big guns" to pull out when I relapsed. I was able to maintain my weight, but dropping weight was terribly difficult. This left me hovering about 5 pounds below my relapse weight (weight can be a trigger for PCOS symptoms). But, through acupunture and diet change, I am now sitting 15 pounds under my relapse weight and my body appears to be functioning along the normal calorie in, calorie out scenario! I currently don't have to work out like a crazy woman just to maintain! Woot! Another crazy development is that my hair is currently curly. All of my life, my hair has been straight. Curl-resistant straight. In humidity, straight. In dry air, straight. Straight, straight, straight--as in NO body! Well, all of my life except two other times, both lasting about 9 months. You guessed it, during both of my pregnancies. In case you are wondering, I am not pregnant. Yes, I am sure! However, this is another sign that my hormone levels are changing and in a good way. For those of us with PCOS, we have low female hormone levels and high male hormone levels. The only time my hormone levels are in the normal range for women is when I am pregnant--or, now maybe! 

So, long story short, I need to count my blessings. With acupuncture and a few diet adjustments, I am feeling really good. I am not sure yet what to do with this crazy mop of hair, but I will happily deal with that over chronic fatigue, irritability, sweating like a man and any other number of symptoms! I will beat this fibroid eventually--because I am ridiculously stubborn. 
What does all this have to do with N's Whims, you ask?! Well, seeing as how N is the heart of the whims, you should know that I am itching to get back in the studio. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, I will get my current creative project completed and then my girls will be back in school. I have truly enjoyed this summer, playing with them and pouring a bit more of N into our home. Would you like to see some of the projects I have completed? You would? YAY! 

This is my St. Vinnie's lamp project. When I purchased it, the lamp was a lovely 70's mustard yellow. While I do enjoy mustard yellow, it did not work in my living room at all. So, I thought I would spray paint it turquoise. Turns out, the turquoise was too blue, and the lampshade I fell in love with at Target was just a touch too small. So, this summer, I finally got around to round 2 on the lamp. I spray painted it again with a cream color. Then, I got out the shoe polish (which we rarely use anymore on shoes) and darkened up the details. I found this shade at World Market, which was surprisingly economical! However, the shade was not made for this type of lamp connection. So, I found some wire in my studio and rigged it so that it would stay level on the base. What do you think?!

My next project was to paint this beautiful sideboard that I found on craigslist. It had actually been painted and was a beautiful shade already. But, the color was off for the living room--it had too much red in the paint and turned a bit purple next to my shade of sea green. So, there is sat, taunting me for months. Mike helped me tackle it a few weeks ago and now it is lovely! It houses all of the stereo equipment AND hides the gaping hole with wires that was never finished in the middle of our living room wall (seriously, who does that?! the wall has a hole, 12 inches up, smack in the middle of the room). I now walk into my living room and exhale. It is lovely--it is as therapeutic as yoga when a room comes together, don't you think?!

My current and last project for now is in our covered porch. There were some beams that our porch builder, Matt Parnell, suggested I do something whimsical on. While it has turned into a bigger project than I thought, it has been fun and exciting to see it come together. My mother-in-law donated her scraps from stained glass projects (boy am I glad she didn't just throw them away), and I started making glass murals on the beams. My mom came up yesterday and helped me for a bit. I am hoping some of the other creative people in my life will do a section, too. Won't it be fun to look at and see the work of others that I love while relaxing on the porch?! 

Once again, thank you for reading, your support during this summer of flux, and every single sweet and encouraging word! 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

N's Whims--who knew the name would be so fitting?!

As most of you know, several months ago I announced that I would be taking a hiatus from N's Whims. I wasn't sure at the time if N's Whims would continue to exist--and, if so, what it would even look like. This hobby turned business had taken over more and more of my time and attention. And, as it did, I spent less time being creative and fulfilled and more time just getting product out. My life, my loved ones and myself were getting neglected and I was exhausted keeping up. While it is a good problem to have, a business that is successful and continues to grow, it was not what I wanted for my life. I knew that in order to figure it all out, I needed to take a step back. I needed to sit with and grieve for the loss of N's Whims, if that was to be. You see, N's Whims had become such a part of me--my self-esteem, my social outlet, my justification for investing in learning were all tied to N's Whims. I needed to find me again and then see if I could work N's Whims back in on some level. It was really a tough time for me--N's Whims was my fourth baby! 

However, as tough things usually are, this was so good for me, so freeing. Then, this summer my health decided to shake things up a bit more. I have a chronic, annoying disease called PCOS. I am so lucky that it is not terminal, nor debilitating. I am also very fortunate that more often than not, I have been able to keep it controlled and relatively symptom free. However, this summer it has been unexpectedly wreaking havoc on my body and my lifestyle. I have had to greatly lower my expectations for myself, slowing way down in life. For those of you who know me well, you know it is hard for me to live life casually. I am usually attacking life with a crazy level of energy and intensity. I have had to greatly reduce the amount, duration and intensity of physical activity (I recently had to ask a friend if we could slow down on a bike ride and had to discontinue training for a triathlon--gasp). My house is more often than not embarrassing these days, and energy and creativity for jewelry making has been lacking!

I have noticed that as I slow down, there is more room for thinking and processing. A few weeks ago, it hit me that I am thankful that I took a hiatus with N's Whims and  processed my feelings before my health issues began. If I hadn't, I would probably have resented the lack of energy for creating. Instead, I don't feel pressure to make anything. I am able to let go of the need to be creative and know that when it is there I will enjoy it again. I have also realized how thankful I am that my body has told me to just slow down, reduce the unnecessary pressures of life and enjoy my kids this summer! Instead of spending so much time cleaning and working on projects, I have used the energy I do have to do fun things with the girls. Then, when the energy isn't there anymore, we snuggle up and read together. We are working our way through the Harry Potter books right now. I am learning that I don't have to be the high energy, fun and entertaining mom to enjoy my girls and have them enjoy me. Surprisingly, with this lemon I have been given, I have found several positives (which is great, because without this I might find my attitude turning sour).

Anyway, I think I have finally figured out what N's Whims looks like to me--exactly that, my whims. I can't tell you precisely, because it will be ever changing. I will not be doing custom orders anymore. If you need something custom with wording, check etsy--there are loads of artists who do that sort of thing. If you live nearby and want something custom done with vintage pieces, Stacey Barmore has such a cool style and makes beautiful pieces. You can find her at Old Soul

As for what N's Whims will look like, I have way too many beautiful beads, metal pieces and
discarded vintage bits begging to be made into something beautiful to stop creating! I will make pieces as time and creativity allow. I will probably post some as I make them, but I may not always get to that. Of course, anything created is available for purchase at any time. I may have open boutique hours sporadically and post them on the page to let you know. I will probably have a few open houses a year with other hand-made local vendors. As always, if you have a jewelry need and would like to shop, let me know. I would be happy to find a time for you to shop and would love to get to see you! I really enjoyed the jewelry class I taught in my home recently, so I would love to do that as it fits as well. That being said, if you really want that hand-made family necklace, you could come and learn to make it with your own hands (how cool is that?!). If you have a fun group of friends or family who would love to learn together, let me know and we can set up a time for that. I may also auction a custom family necklace every once in awhile for DAIS--who knows! Basically, when it works, I will, and if not, well then I won't. How's that for N's Whims?! Not the best plan for running a business, I suppose. But, who knows, it just might work--and if not, I am sure I will find another whim. 

Hopefully with this new model, you will find the new creations to be more inspired. It is my hope that my whims will continue to make the women who choose them feel beautiful and unique--because every woman is.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Almost there--more new artists at the Open House!

Some of Connie's infinity scarves sitting in Wayne's bowl
Today I get to tell you about the final set of artists who will be selling at the Open House. One of my friends in the neighborhood told me about a local Waunakee gal who knits gorgeous things. Well, I contacted her and she has agreed to sell at the open house! Her name is Connie Burmeister. She really enjoys knitting with silks (wait until you get to feel her scarves), but uses other types of yarn as well.

LOVE these scoops--everything about them--the weight, feel and color!

After confirming with her that she could be here, she mentioned that her husband is a woodworker. I stopped by their house one day after teaching spin (yes, they put up with my stinky self :) to see his work. Wow, was I amazed. It was clear that Wayne really loves what he does. The scoop handles pictured above were designed by Wayne and they have such a nice feel as you hold them. His pieces are definitely works of art--he lets the unique natural patterns in the wood sing in his finished pieces. 

This piece is for serving olives and is such an innovative design. You put the olives in the base of the piece and close the lid of the upper bowl (which is open for the picture). As you eat the olives, you drop the pit into the upper bowl. No piles of unsightly pits laying around :). Super idea, if you ask me. The bottom is expertly shaped out of one piece of wood. 

See you Sunday 2-5pm at 1418 Blue Ridge Trail.
Just a few more days to wait! 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Badaxe Design is in the house!

I am so excited to let you know that Badaxedesign will be at the N's Whims Open House this Sunday from 2-5pm. For the first time ever, we will have things that are geared toward the men in your life who love to fish (although, I must say that Jonathan's wife looks adorable in his t-shirts)! Jonathan Marquardt lives right here in Waunakee and he has effectively combined his passion for art with that for fly-fishing and the results are so cool. 
One of Badaxedesign's most recent prints.

Johnathan uses a linocut block printing to create his designs. "Linocut block printing is akin to Japanese woodcuts and intaglio.  I use two gouges to carve the surface of my linoleum covered blocks upon which I sketch reverse images for my final pieces.  

Once I have finished carving, I roll the surface with acrylic or oil based ink and press artist's paper down onto the block using a hand held press (someday I'll have a rolling press.)  When the paper is pulled away, the final image is visible.  Each one is created through a hand-made process.  There are many blade sizes but I use primarily two for creating designs.  The depth and width of each cut dictates the final appearance of my image.  A skipping blade can ruin many days of careful work." You can see pictures of the process on Badaxedesign's website.

 Badaxedesign has been featured in several fishing magazines, including The flyfish Journal. Let Badaxedesign be your one-stop shopping for the fishermen in your life who don't need any more gear! 

Mike has a hat, a shirt (excellent quality, by the way) and several framed prints from Badaxedesign, and loves every one of them! To be honest, when it comes to fly-fishing, I have no idea what to buy him--but I can pick out a t-shirt ;). You should definitely head to Badaxedesign's facebook page, to see more. 

At the open house, you will be able to purchase t-shirts, hats and prints of varying sizes at Badaxedesign's table. Jonathan also has a fun series of prints that feature different states and the fish associated with that state. I am thinking that Mike might need an Illinois one for Father's day, since that is the state we lived in when we met :). Shhh! Don't tell him!

This blog in a nutshell--Open House, 1418 Blue Ridge Trail on Sunday, May 5th from 2-5pm. You don't want to miss an opportunity to shop Badaxedesign and many other local artists. Be there! 


Sunday, April 28, 2013

N's Whims Open House is just one week away!

Yep, next Sunday, May 5th from 2-5pm, you will find a unique shopapalooza at 1418 Blue Ridge Trail in Waunakee! Not only will you get 10% of anything N's Whims, you will also find some N² items (made by Nicole Mihalas and I), some Craft to Give Back items (all proceeds go to DAIS of Madison), hair accessories and other items by the MihaLutes ladies, Caroline's Vintage, A Mother's Art Photography and Cdel, you will also get to shop Dede's latest designs.

This is a piece Dede made us, I love how it reminds me of the beach--sand, baubles and blue-green ocean waters....
Dede Kauffman will be at the open house this Sunday, 2-5pm. If you have ever noticed (or heard me going on and on about) the stained glass in my windows, you know Dede does beautiful work! If you haven't, here are two of my favorite pieces that sit in my boutique windows.

Pure happiness when I walk into my studio to begin working and see the sunshine coming through my windows, lighting up the office and casting shades of orange! These two are just perfect for me--down to the swirls and the cracked glass jewels!

This is one of my favorites in my living room--it reminds me of all the jewels and blessings in my family tree....

Dede will have some abstract pieces similar to these, as well as some smaller fun pieces.

Oh, one more excellent gift idea--Dede makes crash glass collages--here is one she made for me. Bring a favorite picture or two, and if you have a favorite quote printed (scrapbooking items work great for this) and she'll design one for you, too! 

I have a few more artists to tell you about in the next few days, including some that are new to the N's Whims open house. We will have fun gift ideas for mothers, fathers, teachers and graduates (or anyone else on your list in the next few months). We will also have many fun things to update your house and wardrobe--springing new life into yours! Make sure you save some time to come and shop next Sunday.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cdel will be back for the open house!

The one pictured here is called blue/green schmear--isn't it cute!
You know the bands--those ones that don't move--EVAH! The ones that come in so many bright, beautiful colors and patterns. The ones you can wash multiple times and even (gasp) throw in the dryer! I swear I can't wear these puppies out--even my favorites that I wear ALL THE TIME! Yep, Lori from Cdel will be back again and she will have a plethora of stickybands and wickybands with her. 

Can't wait to see you all soon--I have a several more artists to tell you about, including a few new vendors I can't wait to tell you all about. Stay tuned and block off your calendars Sunday, May 5th from 2-5PM! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why it will be so hard to stop doing special orders....

Still not sure what N's Whims will look like in the future, but I know now that special orders will no longer be a service I can provide. I love doing them, but I need to get back to playing with my finds and treasures to find my passion again. Sadly, I just don't have enough time for it all! One of my last special orders was an amazing one to end on--and I just have to share it with you. Please forgive the length of this blog, because you know I am rarely brief!

About a month ago, one of my group exercise students, Karen, approached me about doing a project for her sister. Her sister will be turning 50 the day after tomorrow, exactly 2 days after her son, Zack, would have turned 16. She should have been worrying about his first time alone behind the wheel, but instead, she will be throwing another huge party to celebrate his life without him. When Zack was just 6 years old, he died tragically when a soccer goal tipped over on him. Every year since that day, his family (and by this I mean his HUGE extended family) has thrown a party for Zack, inviting underprivileged children and having a blast in his honor. Pretty cool, huh?! 

Anyway, she wanted to do something really special for her sister--and they have done many really meaningful things over the years, like making a book with his artwork, bracelets with beads he picked out, necklaces with z on them, quilts from his clothes--you name it, they have given it. This family is incredibly thoughtful and diligent about keeping Zack a part of the family. What neat ways they have come up with to make Zack known to his younger siblings and cousins who were born after his death! So, she brought me this book of Zack's artwork, some legos that used to be his and shared several stories of him and his family. Karen told me that she would like to incorporate a lego, an angel's wing and a key (to signify that he would have been getting his license this year). We decided to use his favorite colors--orange and red--on this piece.

I can't even tell you how many times I read this book, full of the lessons Zack taught during his short time here. My girls often would sit down and read it, too. I can't tell you how many times I cried--for his family, for the loss of dreams, for all the hurt in this world. No one in our house says Zack, who? anymore. It is as if we got to know him--as much as is possible, anyway.

I have to say that often I am stumped by special orders for awhile. Especially the ones that are outside the box. I think about them A LOT, and worry that I won't be able to do them justice! This one had me especially worried--I mean first of all, it was a gift--sometimes it is hard to get a sense of the recipient's style from the person ordering. Number two, his mom has dabbled in jewelry--eek! She might have higher expectations for the jewelry she wears. Thirdly, she has received so many meaningful gifts, how can I make this one more special for her 50th? Fourth of all, I have never used a lego in jewelry--how will I do that?! And, lastly, a key and angels wing and a chunky orange pendant all in one necklace--each one could be a focal on it's own. How can I do all of this and make it pretty and wearable? I prayed more than once for the inspiration to make it all work. I did not want to fail on this project--it had become too important to me!

Two way toggle, long version
Well, I finally stopped thinking and worrying and started playing. This is what I came up with. The two-way toggle is such a great design for showcasing more than one cool piece, and it is versatile (can wear it long or short), so she might be more likely to like it. But, I had never made one before with so many large parts. I picked out some of my favorite orange and red beads (Zack and I have similar favorites, so I had many to choose from). I found a small clear square lego that was red and wrapped it in filigree--it looks like a message in an envelope to me. I decided to dangle that little message on the wing, adding a pop of color to the large antique brass wing. Many times when I was wrapping the beads, my eyes were so wet that it was hard to see what I was doing. When this piece was finished, I felt emotionally drained.

Two way toggle, short version
It was then that I realized what I will miss most about special orders. It isn't the look on the face when it is delivered and it isn't being able to pull off the challenge (don't get me wrong, those things are great--and if this piece becomes her second favorite piece next to her wedding ring, it will be icing on the cake :). It is the emotional connection I get to make with a few of you. It is you trusting me enough to be raw and vulnerable--sharing your world with me. It is me being able to be there for someone, to touch back. Simply put, it is the connection. Then, I take your stories, your pictures, your hopes and your losses and sit with them. I think about you, your hurt, your joy--whatever you shared with me, while I make that jewelry. I add my hopes--for your future, for your heart, for your dreams--and make you a little piece of jewelry with love. That is what I will truly miss.

I got a chance to meet Karen's mom on one visit as well. She, too, was so open and excited to share about Zack. On this visit, they brought me a bracelet that had broken. This bracelet had beads that were the same kinds that Zack had picked out with his mom at a bead show right before he died. His mom had recently picked up the beading hobby, so she bought more of his picks and beaded a bracelet for each of the women in their extended family. One special order became two. Karen's mom wanted me to make a second piece from her. They didn't need to match, but should both have a part of Zack.

Back-side of the bracelet
I decided that for this one, I really wanted to incorporate Zack's artwork. But, I wanted to do it in a way that was grown up--I mean, he wouldn't be a little boy anymore. I also wanted to use some of his beads. I found these little, sophisticated antique silver links in my stash. I scanned some of his artwork, shrank it, printed it, scanned, shrank and printed again to get it the right size. Then I put them on the back side of the links and set it with resin. After two days, they were ready to use in the bracelet. I went to my favorite bead stash--my czech glass beads. Knowing she likes chunkier, bolder jewelry, I chose from my hoarded large czech glass beads. I have to let you know that these beads are hard for me to use in designs. They are harder to find and it isn't that I don't want to use them, but more that I worry that the piece I add them to will not be worthy. So, I hoard them. Well, I knew they would be perfect, so with joy in my heart they were added to the design. There HAD to be one with orange and red together. And, my favorite drawing, the lizard, had green in it, so I used other czech beads with green. I hope the shell one reminds her of a time collecting seashells with Zack, his tiny hand in hers. The tiny blue and green glass beads and the Z dangling from the end were his. The hand charm says, "play" on the other side, which was the message I heard over and over again while reading his book. Take time to play! Finally, I shaped and hammered the clasp from a piece of wire.
Bracelet, the view when worn

I truly appreciate the opportunity to connect that each of you has given me when placing a special order with N's Whims. I am pretty sure that on many occasions I received more from the process than you. You have reminded me over and over what truly matters and allowed me to give with love. I know now that I will need to find another way to connect with others--maybe it is volunteering for people who are going through tough times, or even joyous times. Regardless, I will be on the hunt for "Lutes love moments" as we have coined them in our house. Times, often totally unexpected, when we can reach out to others and touch them with love in our hearts--making the world a little bit better for all of us!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Change, Change, everywhere change....

NEW DATE for the Spring N's Whims Open House: Sunday, May 5th from 2-5pm.

This is a first for me--changing the date of an open house, but there were several vendors who had conflicts and I wanted a full open house with lots of fun hand-made items. So, we changed the date and I couldn't be more excited with the many fun things that will be available at this open house! I still have a few openings, so if you know of a talented artist who makes something you haven't seen here before, have them contact me!

Caroline's Vintage
Caroline Designs has been here before with her adorable sewn items (skirts, ruffle pants, purses and snack bags), which will be available, but I am also excited to introduce their new company, Caroline's Vintage 

Caroline's Vintage is a joint venture between my equally talented parents. My dad has always been able to make just about anything (seriously, while re-modeling our attic into a bathroom, his response was always, "anything is do-able...."), and my mom enjoys embellishing whatever he makes :). They have found whimsical ways to add a touch of the past to their creations, making almost everything they sell one of a kind. You will want to come early to have the best selection! I love these little fairie doors--my girls can't decide which is their favorite! You should definitely head over to their facebook page and check out all of the things they have been creating. While you are there, like it and tell them I sent you (can't hurt my attempts to remain the favorite, lol)!

 So, don't forget, the Spring Open House will now be Sunday, May 5th from 2-5pm. N's Whims items will still be 10% off. I will have open hours from 9-11 this Saturday, in case someone doesn't get this memo about the new time (or if you need to shop for something fun). I will be honoring the sale then as well!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The open house is almost here!

I am so excited to announce that Gail Clutter will be at the N's Whims Open House on May 5th from 2-5pm. You may be familiar with the name because she was recently featured in the Waunakee Tribune! She is the owner and artist/photographer of A Mother's Art Photography. I can't wait to have her do our family photographs as soon as it dries out this spring! She will have lots of examples of her work for you to look at--I know you are going to want to get your photography session on the books as well. 

Not only is Gail an amazing artist, but she has such a heart for orphans as well. Gail is the volunteer photography editor for An Orphan's Wish, which just happens to be the charity the vendors are supporting for this open house. 10% of profits from this open house will be donated to An Orphan's Wish. An Orphan's Wish is a non-profit organization of dedicated volunteers striving to reflect God's heart by caring for and improving the lives of orphans in China. Over 97% of every donation goes directly to programs for children. You have to see some of the pictures Gail took when she was there last fall--gorgeous! When I read her blog post about her trip, I knew then that I HAD to feature this orphanage at an upcoming open house. I am sure you will agree--I can't wait to see what we can do together for this amazing effort to spread love to those considered unlove-able by society!

Stay tuned for more details on the other amazing artists who will be at the N's Whims Open House on Sunday, May 5th from 2-5pm. I will be blogging all week to let you know. As always, there will be a craft-to-give back table featuring some fun items--and all proceeds from sales go to DAIS of Madison, supporting victims of domestic abuse. And, in case you haven't heard, N's Whims is having a sale--on ALL N's Whims merchandise. Only the second time ever. I want to say thank you to each and every one of you who has made my business a success! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Where in the whim is N?!

I feel I need to give a warning with this blog post--it might get real, it might get long (cuz when n gets real, it's rarely short) and it might get messy. So, if you don't have the time, the patience or the heart to hang tough with me, you have my permission to scroll to the end and find the cliff note version!

There has been a funk that has been growing in my heart for many months. It has been hard to see through the fog and get to the bottom of it. There have been thoughts that I have been afraid to even whisper, and when I have dared, the response of those I trust has been an echo of my very deepest fears.You see, the journey of N's Whims has become such a part of me that I had difficulty even separating it. But, through a great heart to heart with my M, I have come to see that while the story of N's Whims doesn't exist without N, the story of N is so much more. What began as an interest, grew into a hobby, then a tiny business, then a part-time job. It has been such a thrill! I can remember the thrill of making the first item that I was excited to wear, and how quickly that thrill exploded as each of you have found something you are proud to wear! If I am honest, my self-esteem has grown with each 'like' of my pieces, each published approval, each and every purchase, and the confidence you show when you entrust me with your special orders. In the beginning, I thought of myself as a dabbler, an imitator even--now, through your eyes, I see myself as an artist. You don't know the gift you have given me! It is so scary to even think of closing that door even an inch....

However, what began as a way to renew myself, be creative, play with my mind and my hands, take a break from reality, has turned into an obligation. N's Whims must be fed. I have packages of new beads that are waiting to be opened. I have beautiful beads piled up in a basket waiting to be put away! There was a time when a package of beads would come and I would tear into it, sit down and make something from the package right away. I have tupperwares of vintage goodies begging for my time. If I am honest, I have begun to create what I think you will want rather than let the pieces speak to me. While that may not seem huge on the surface (I still like what I make, it still feels like N's Whims to me), it doesn't renew me as it once did. I no longer challenge my mind in the way I used to, I have become complacent.

Another issue is that there is more to me than N's Whims. I have always prided myself on being a good friend. Thoughtful, aware, present. When I got married, this flowed into good wife and later good mother as well. This is and always has been a huge facet of my persona. However, in the past few years, I have used the excuse of "not enough time" more than I am proud to admit. I have allowed my obligations to commandeer the time I used to readily give to my relationships. Today, I admitted to Mike that it sounds hollow in my heart when I use the excuse that I don't have time to sit for coffee, or to attend Bible Study, or to take a walk or to just sit and chat. I hate that I don't have the energy to call a friend or one of my sisters after I put the girls on the bus or to bed. Many of my relationships have suffered as a result, and this undoubtedly has added to the funk! Now that I have said it outloud and in print, it seems ridiculous that I have been telling myself that I just don't have time for the important relationships in my life. As long as I can remember, I have always maintained that relationships and making the world a better place for others is the biggest reason we exist! How did I lose sight of that?!

Yes, there are many other things during these last two years that have also changed in my life to take some of my time and energy. My children have needed me more--even though they are now in school full time, challenges keep arising that require my attention to help them succeed. But, that is part of my role as mother, and one that I cannot remove. I will never be able to control how much they need me and will try to relish every time I can be there while they still beg for it!

I have also started teaching group exercise classes again--7 a week. But, again, this is what my body needs to stay healthy (I have PCOS and it is controlled largely through my weight). I cannot lessen the amount or intensity without having it negatively affect my health, as well as my ability to be emotionally present in my life.
I am sure there are other changes that I haven't even identified yet, but they are not something that I am willing to let go of. While it is scary to think of letting go of N's Whims, I have to imagine it. I have to see if I can still be N without it--if I want to. Maybe in the end I will go back to making jewelry as a hobby (with a much better stash of beads :). Maybe I will just make things for gifts. Maybe I will only open once or twice a year. Maybe I will find my passion and balance again and just adjust a few things. I don't know what the future brings for N's Whims, but what I do know is that I want to be proud of N again. Not just proud of N the artist, but N the friend, mom, wife, sister, community member. I want to read for fun again. I want to make a wreath. I want to decorate my house (have you ever noticed that other than the boutique and a few other half-hearted attempts, my house looks much like we just moved in?!). I want to finally make something with those goat bells I found over a month ago! I want to have coffee and just chat. I want to follow the whims of N again.

N's Whims is changing. I am not sure what it will look like at the end of the metamorphosis, but I do know the first stage is going to be dormant. I want to stop and be in each moment, listening for what is important.

Cliff note version: N's Whims is going to take at least a few months off. If I have already agreed to work on your special order, I will be working on it before I take a break. If you have a jewelry need, let me know and we can find a good time for you to stop and shop. On April 20th, there will be an amazing open house from 9-noon. We will be raising money for An Orphan's Wish, and as always, you will find wonderful hand-made items from several vendors. As a huge thank you for all of your support and encouragement of N's Whims on this crazy ride, I will be holding the second sale in the history of my business. All N's Whims items will be 10% off that day! Following the open house, I will take some time away from N's Whims. I will not be taking any special orders and may or may not even be making jewelry. I don't know what will follow that hiatus, but I am hopeful that if jewelry continues to be my whim, the jewelry will be even more inspired and joyfully created. You will be the first to know!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lily's Luau

The dresser before....
What a neat experience for N's Whims and Craft to Give Back! Several months ago, one of our Craft to Give Back volunteers donated a wooden dresser to Craft to Give Back. We have been tossing around the idea of gussying up some used furniture with good bones and either selling them to raise money for charity or donating them to DAIS for families starting out with nothing after fleeing abusive relationships. So, Jill O'Toole dropped off this awesome sized wooden dresser that was a bit blah. It sat for several months in the garage, taunting me. I wanted to work on the first one alone before we tackled any projects as a group. In the meantime, Patti Hottmann, another Craft to Give Back volunteer mentioned that Lily's Luau was coming up. Lily's Luau is the biggest fundraiser of the year for Lily's fund, which raises money for epilepsy research. Patti's oldest daughter, has epilepsy and she was serving as one of the hosts for this years event. This seemed like the perfect venue for our first dresser re-do! Now, there was a deadline (which is often what finally gets me to move from dreaming to doing)! 

The drawers before....

Inside of drawers painted!
Nicole Mihalas, another Craft to Give Back regular, happened to have a can of Laguna Blue paint leftover from painting Zoe's room. She dropped it off and I got to work cleaning, sanding and removing hardware. Next, I painted the inside of the drawers and the drawer pulls espresso brown. What a difference that alone made!

First coat on and drying....
Of course, when I purchased the spray paint, I only purchased one can and ran out right on my last drawer. I searched my stash of spray paint and found another half-finished can of the same color--can you believe it?! That NEVER happens to me! Once the drawers were drying, it was time for the first coat of blue--why was I so nervous? It turned out to be the perfect blue for a luau inspired dresser! I added a coat of blue to the outside of the drawers and day one was finished. The next morning began with sanding again--so glad that Mike and I bought a power sander for our anniversary last year :). Next up, wipe it all down again and then added a second coat. Such a pretty color in real life! I found a beautiful hibiscus flower picture, which is the symbol for Lily's Luau, and sent it to my parents, the owners of Vintage Caroline. They made and donated the hot pink vinyl hibiscus flowers for the top of the dresser.


Now, all that was left was to get dressed up, join a few Craft to Give Back ladies, and enjoy the coconut shrimp, island drinks and festive music--all for an excellent cause! We managed to have a great night, lots of giggles, met some fabulous young ladies living courageously with epilepsy--and, I walked away winning a basket of aveda products and pedicures for the four of us! I cannot tell you the thrill of seeing that our humble little dresser (along with a $25 gift card to Matilda Jane donated by Nicole Mihalas) went for $310 in the silent auction! Love the generosity we witnessed for a great cause last night. I learned that Lily's fund actually pays for research fellows focused entirely on finding a cure for epilepsy. Awesome job, Lily and family! Super duper fun and exciting night! Just goes to show how a community of women looking to bring a positive touch can make a difference! Can't wait to hear what the overall amount raised was. If you are looking for a great cause and a fun gala, you will need to make sure you get your tickets to Lily's Luau early next year--they sold out this year! And, if you have paint, furniture or painting supplies to donate, please keep Craft to Give Back in mind! We would love to take your donation, add a bit of love and make it grow into something even bigger....