Thursday, August 26, 2010

Arfire Stimulus Sale Ending Soon

This great sale will be ending on Aug. 31.. If you haven't shopped for those unique handmade gifts yet, now is the time to get shopping.

There are all kinds of sales going on in the Artfire studios right now. My DancingWindDesigns studio has a BOGO on beaded earrings and ornament drapes. Other studios have deep discounts, free shipping and much more.

Start your Christmas shopping early with this sale and save some money. Nothing is better than a cool, one of a kind gift to stand out from the crowd.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Handmade Photography Light Box

With the help of my husband, I now have a handmade light box designed for shooting jewelry.  Since there are tons of tutorials on the internet for doing this, I combined a couple that I liked to get mine. I thought I would share the" how to" aspect of it. It doesn't cost much, either.

Here is what was used for this one:
plastic box clear or frosted-(size of your choosing)
tri-fold display board-like the kids use for Science fairs (got mine at Walmart for less than $4-it's an Elmer's brand)
sheet of poster board
3/16" eye bolts, nuts and washers-this one has 6 (home supply-about .30 ea.)
White Rustoleum paint (if you aren't in the US, that's a spray paint specifically for metal)
2 clamp on lights with daylight or full spectrum light bulbs
chisel or other flat object for opening eyes in eye bolts

Here are shots of the eye bolts before opening and after. Open them however much you think you need to so your necklaces/bracelets will fit on them. Before you start the other stuff, go ahead and get a coat of paint on them, so it can be drying. You will probably ding the metal in the eye bolts when you open them, but that's ok-the paint should cover it. Give them two or three coats. You don't need to paint the threads of the eye bolts.

Here's the plastic box with the tri fold mat under it.

Find the center of the side and mark it. Measuring out from, decide how far apart you want the eye bolts to be. From the center, this one is 1 1/2" on each side for a space that's 3" wide. The holes next to it are 2" from the neighboring hole. Drill those out. There is also a hole centered in the end of the box for the really long necklaces that I make sometimes. Here's a picture of the drilled holes

In order to get the light to reflect, you need to cut the tri fold board down somewhat, so it forms a three sided cover for the plastic box. Just measure and cut according to the size of the plastic box you are using. The top of this one folds over to the edge of the plastic box and the sides come out to the edges. This plastic box has a rim along the top, so when the box is turned sideways, the edges of the tri fold board will catch and hold in the rim.
Now, it's time to add the lights.

Since I was trying to do this on a budget of little to nothing, I only bought one work light-the silver reflector one.  I already had the gooseneck light. Besides, the store only had one of the reflector lights left.
Here is the shot of two of the hooks attached to the top of the box. I moved the piece of poster board down so you could see the white part of the hooks. After you get the eye bolts through the plastic, it's important to use the washers between the plastic box and the nuts. It will help keep the nuts more secure than the would be against just the plastic.

The poster board was cut to fit the inside of the box, also. It has a small portion that overhangs the edge of the box. It was getting humid, hot and very overcast when I got done taking these pictures, so I just hurried and snapped a necklace shot to show how it works. One of the advantages, for me, of a light box like this is that when I am finished, the hooks and lights and any props I use, will store inside the box and the tri fold board and poster board will store flat underneath it.

I should have taken more time to set up the lights and get my tripod, but this will give you a general idea of how it works.
The overall cost of this was probably less than $12. I already had the plastic box, one light, the light bulbs, the washers and the Rustoleum. The tri fold board was about $5, the poster board maybe $1, the reflector light $5, and the eye bolts .60. Even if you started from scratchand bought everything, you could probbly do it for about $20.00.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Jury Duty called and I answered

This was an interesting and trying week. I was called for jury duty and ended up sitting on a jury. This blog post will explain what jury duty is like in my little corner of Georgia. It all started with a summons that arrived in the mail telling me to report on Aug. 9. Even though all of this is now a matter of public record, I'm not going to use real names when I talk about the victim and the defendant.

On Mon., all the people summoned were seated in a large meeting room. The Clerk of Courts called the roll, then divided us into two groups-Panel 1 and Panel 2. We were told that this would be the seating order and to remember who we were sitting next to. I was in Panel 1. After a few minutes, Panel 2 was called to go into a courtroom where a civil suit was being heard. Some time passed before Panel 1 was called into the criminal courtroom. We walked single file into the courtroom and I wasn't sure if I felt like a sheep being herded or if I was back in elementary school. The front 14 people filed into the jury box and the rest of us sat in the courtroom seats.

The judge addressed us by telling us what the young man at the defense table was charged with. Then the District Attorney and the Defense Attorney asked us several questions-did we know any of the attorneys, did we know the defendant or the victim and things like that. The attorneys conferred among themselves, then chose 14 people-12 jurors and and 2 alternates-and the rest of us went back to the original meeting room. All of this had taken about 2 ½ hours, so the Clerk of Courts told us we could break for lunch and to be back in 90 minutes.

After the lunch break, we all returned to the meeting room where we sat for abut 45 minutes. Then we we called back to the criminal courtroom where the same procedure was repeated. The judge told us what the defendant was charged with and the attorneys asked us questions. One new question included this time was asking us if we had children. We went by rows and stood and stated how many children we had and their ages. You see, this defendant was charged with child molestation. The attorneys then conferred with the attorneys at their respective tables and then names were called for the jury. I heard my name. After the people who were not chosen had been let go, we were given instructions to report back to court on Wednesday morning and to not discuss this case with each other or anybody else.

What this case was is this: A girl had gone out of town on a family emergency-her father had had a massive heart attack. She left her 3 ½ year old son with her 23 year old live in boyfriend. She was gone for 5 days. After she returned, the little boy, Josh, told his mom, “that Papa Bill  put his weenie in my mouth and dirty water came out and went all over the blue blanket”.

Wednesday morning, I reported to court-dreading it the whole time. In the jury room, we were given notepads and pencils and told to write our names on the top page, but to use the pages under that for our notes. We were also told that from that point on, except for lunch, we would be escorted everywhere by a bailiff. So, we went into the courtroom and were sworn in. The District Attorney made her opening statement and the Defense Attorney made his. Then, the District Attorney presented their case. We heard from the first person to interview Josh and saw the video of that interview. Then we heard testimony from the police Lt. who interviewed Bill and saw the video of that interview. Bill denied several times that he had done it, then said that he had been at a neighbors smoking pot. When he got home, he put Josh to bed and started watching some porn. He said he didn't hear Josh get up until Josh tripped over a pair of shoes and fell so his mouth landed exactly where it did to bring these charges. Of course the detective did not believe this outrageous story, so Bill changed his story 2 more times before finally saying he did it. After that video interview, we heard testimony from a forensic interviewer who specializes in interviewing child victims of sexual abuse. We heard from her and saw the video of her interview with Josh. That took about an hour. Through it all, the little boy stayed consistent with his side of the story. Some of the things he did in his interview with the forensic interviewer were also good indicators of abuse. When the interview pointed to the mouth on the drawing of the little boy, Josh would not name the mouth but his words were “I didn't do that. Bill did”. Then we heard from Josh himself. After he took the stand, the DA was careful to ask him a couple of questions about his ability to know the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie. He repeated what Bill had done. Then, we heard from his mom. She stated that after she had confronted Bill about what he had done, she took Josh and went and stayed with friends. Bill packed up his belongings, including the blue blanket, and vacated the apartment. The District Attorney then rested her case. The judge then recessed us for lunch with the caution about not talking to anybody about the case. We got 90 minutes for lunch. I ate, but while I was eating I kept going over in my mind what I had heard that morning. Not in a looking at the evidence kind of way, but wondering what leads people to make some of the horrible choices they make sometimes.

After the lunch break, the Defense put Bill on the stand. I, along with most of the jury, had been watching him throughout the morning. He showed no emotion during anything. Bill testified to the fact that he had been smoking pot and eating Xanax before going home, and putting Josh to bed and everything else. He also mentioned that there were others who could have done this to Josh. Suddenly, there are other suspects in this case. Don't think so. He went on to say that he dropped out of school halfway through 10th grade and that his dad and stepdad had beaten him. Happens to thousands of others and they don't go out and sexually abuse kids. He also stated that he confessed because he was intimidated by the police Lt., but his body language didn't show that at all. There was supposed to be another witness for the defense that afternoon, but since he couldn't be located, we were released for the day and told to report back the next morning. The next morning, the witness who could not be located had been located. He was a character witness for the defense. He got on the stand, stated his name, and when asked if he knew the reputation Bill had in the community he said that he did. When asked if that reputation was good or bad, he replied good. When the District Attorney was asked if she had any questions for the witness, she did not. I was left with the feeling of “who was this masked man?”

We then heard closing arguments from both sides and got instructions from the judge before retuning to the jury room for deliberations. We had to wait to start deliberating until we got Bill's signed confession, the paper he signed where he waived his Miranda rights and the written jury instructions. While we were waiting, we chose a foreperson. Once we got the paperwork,, it didn't take long to find him guilty on one count of aggravated child molestation and one count of child molestation. When Bill heard the first guilty verdict, he kind of sagged on his feet, but his face again showed nothing. In Ga., the sentence for aggravated child molestation is a mandatory 25 years with no possibility of parole. He will serve everyday of that 25 years. He got 20 years for the child molestation charge. The sentences are to run consecutively. That means he will probably still have time to serve after doing the 25 years-if a person like that even survives prison. Even if he gets out, he will be a registered sex offender, and be on probation for the rest of his life.

Do I think that this guy is a threat to any kid walking home from school past his house? No, I don't. He didn't seem to be that ambitious. Do I think this guy is a threat to any kid in his home? Yes, I sure do. If he had been found not guilty, I bet he would have found another girlfriend with a small child and done the same thing. It's just the vibe I got while watching him for a couple of days. He's a pedophile, but too lazy to hunt for victims.

After it was over, I was home, I had a deep melancholy feeling descend on me. I'm not sure why. After all, this guy wasn't going to hurt any more kids. Maybe it was the fact that he had changed so many lives by his actions. Hopefully, Josh is young enough, he can get past this without much of a memory. The lives of Josh's loved ones are all changed because of Bill's actions and Bill's life is surely changed.

I know that having this small glimpse inside of a pedophile has changed me. I'm not sure I will feel clean again for a very long time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Introducing my neighbors

I would like to introduce you to some of my neighbors. They are pretty good neighbors-no loud parties at all hours, no cars racing around the neighborhood. Some of them even help us keep the yard in shape by keeping the grass trimmed and they don't let the pears spoil on the ground when they fall. They also help with mosquito control.
Without further ado....
This neighbor has recently moved. I had to evict her when I decided to reclaim the front porch swing. She's a gold silk spider. They are called that because the webbing they have is a wonderful gold color. It's incredibly strong, too. I once read an article that said slaves used to weaqve baskets from the webs. It was something in National Geographic, so I'm pretty sure that it's true. I can believe it. They catch so many mosquitoes in their webs, don't bite and never try and come in the house. I like having them around.

Next is George V. He is decended from one of the first gopher tortise we met when we moved in. My son named him after my dad. We have a bunch of these on the property-probably at least 8 out front and several in the power line pass through. I love having them around, too. They are an endangered species and I am very protective of them. Just ask the electric guys who came out a couple of years ago to trim the trees away from the power lines. They almost ran over a turtle hole and I gave them hell about it, too.

Next we have Spot and his mom, Goofy. Goofy is a doe-we figure about 15 years old. We named her Goofy several years ago because her left ear doesn't stand up right and she looks goofy. She can do semaphore with that ear. However goofy she looks, she is pretty much the matriarch of the does in the area. I think most of them are are daughters, anyhow. Spot is a huge fawn now which is why we think he is a he.  This picture was taken about a month ago. He was still kind of small then. I haven't been able to catch a new one of him. He's grown a lot, but for some strange reason, still has spots. None of the other fawns do. I hope he loses them one day, or he will make an easy target for the hunters.  Look to the left of the shot-you can see him in the grass while Goofy munches pears.

Last, but not least is one of the few fox that reamin in the area-at least around our house. There were so many of them that between the fox and the coyotes, they wiped out the rabbit population in about three years and pretty much everything else that lives on the ground including quail and whip-or-wills. Then, there were so many fox, they ran the coyotes off. This guy is old and limps, so I feel kind of sorry for him. He's right in the center of the shot-posing nicely for me. You might have to look hard to see him.
I hope you enjoyed meeting my neighbors.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Another innovation from Artfire

Artfire has rolled out live another innovative, fabulous new feature-the Curated Collections. These are similar to the treasuries that etsy has, but better becauses they are much easier to create. There is no copying and pasting involved at all. The hardest part is choosing from all the wonderful goodies what to add to your collection. Pro studios can create an unlimited number of collections, basic studios, one per day.

All you have to do, is open the collections tab in "My Collections", then as you look for things to add, there is an "Add to collection" button on the items. All you have to do is click that button and viola', the item has been added.

Here is a link to the main page of the  Curated Collections .  Scroll through and see all the lovlies.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Organic Dog Shampoo

It's been hot and dry here in south Ga. for a long time. The fleas are flourishing and driving our poor little bichon, Sparky, crazy. I really don't like using chemical stuff on animals. It gets absorbed into their skin and system and I know that isn't good.
I tried a bunch of different organic stuff on sparky-everything from two pounds of food grade diatomaceous earth-recommended by Mother Earth News, to other organic shampoo. None of it worked. Finally, one day in the Artfire forums, a seller who rescues Italian Greyhounds, started a thread about some shampoo she had purchased from a seller whose studio name is Essensu, and how wonderful it was on fleas. Best thing, it was organic. I contacted the buyer of the shampoo and asked her all kinds of questions. Then I contacted Tami, of Essensu. About 10 day later I had Sparky's shampoo.

I am really happy with this shampoo for Sparky. It is lavender scented, and it does keep the fleas at bay. Sparky haqs gone from getting bathed every other day, to a bath about every 4 days. He is a much happier little dog for two reasons. He isn't that fond of having a bath, so this new schedule is working out great for him, and he isn't being tormented by fleas too much in between baths. I also got some lavender oil to put on his collar. I "charge" his collar up every day with a few drops. After all, could so many of our Grandmothers have been wrong about bugs not lliking lavender?

Essensu also sends out free samples with all her orders. I got a wonderful sample of Orange Blossom and Honey facial scrub. I love it. It smells yummy and after using it, my skin isn't as dry as when I was using my other facial scrub. This was a win win situation all around.

As for the two pounds of diatomaceous earth-it's going to go in the yard. I do believe it works, just not on the animal itself.