Along the Turquoise Trail

The Turquoise Trail runs between ALB and Santa Fe and may be most favorite stretch of road in the world as of today. There are beautiful views of the Sandia Crest Mountains and amazing little towns with more character and personality than anyplace I've ever been. I took the top shot from my car of a wandering soul with plenty of water for his trip.

I particularly loved Madrid which is happily stuck in the 60's but not in a phony way. Even Mike was charmed by the locals and their sincerity and beautiful artwork. The beautiful blue sky with the cool cloud formation was over Madrid and it puts me in a happy place to look at it. It's one of 3 sky pictures that I'm blowing up to hang over my couch. The other 2 are sunsets that I've posted in the last 2 entries here.

There are over 40 shops and galleries in Madrid and unlike the Santa Fe/Taos gallery experience I felt right at home. The art here was accessible and affordable. I bought some prints at the Color and Light Arts shop and Mike got a matted photograph of clouds he fell in love with at the Dream Gallery. I also got a beautiful shell inlayed pendant and turquoise necklace at the Gypsy Gem shop.

I got some more jewelry from the Native American craftsmen that set up in front of the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe. I got a large turquoise ring that reminds me of my Nana's ring that she wore almost everyday. Another cousin got the turquoise ring when she passed and I got the mother of pearl ring. I hope this one will be a heirloom for my nieces to fight over someday. I also got an inlay pendant, although I didn't spend $1,100 on it like the one I coveted in Madrid. Overall I'm very happy with my purchases along the trail as you can see here.


Back to reality

I've been having a hard time adjusting to life after vacation. I've been kind of in a daze and I'm so glad that I have this week off of work too. I will definitely be going back to New Mexico although the next time I will be leaving Mike at home. We had a great time for the first 4 days of the trip as we had some friends along which made it even more enjoyable for Mike. I can't remember the last time we laughed as much as we did when we were in Santa Fe.

I had found us the perfect little house or casita with two bedrooms and a living room at the Casa Del Toro within walking distance of pretty much everything in downtown Santa Fe. I ddn't take many pictures in Santa Fe since it was more about just relaxing and having a good time.

The first night when in ALB we went on the Sandia Peak Tramway and ate at the top of the mountain. Mike and Sandy both freaked out on the way up, which takes you up 10,000 feet in around 15 minutes. I was snapping away and was fine. I got the shot at the top right at sunset on the way down.

I don't think you can take a bad picture from up there. There was some fog and hazyness but I think it just adds to the coolness.

The last 3 days we spent in Taos which was when the real picture taking began for me. I'll share some of those shots tomorrow.


I'm Back!

We made it home this afternoon from our New Mexico adventure. I am pretty exhausted to say the least. Yesterday I managed to get Eggs Benedict from my breakfast in Taos, hibiscus tea from my lunch in Santa Fe, and ketchup from my dinner in Albequerque all on my cream colored shirt. Quite a collection of stains, and cuisines if I do say so myself.

I have so many pictures to go through it's not even funny. I took over 1,500 shots and I haven't even scratched the surface on processing the raw images and editing them. The top one is from the most amazing museum in between Alb and Santa Fe called Tinkertown. I thought the sign summed up the trip for me. Below is one from an amazing sunset the first night we were in Taos.

I have the next week off too so I should have time to do laundry and go through my shots before we head to the farm on Wednesday. I'll share a few of my favorites everyday until then so please stay tuned.


Another fun weekend

The three Amigos were together again this weekend. We met up with the girls yesterday afternoon and enjoyed a fun filled summer weekend. Mike and I got to share our love of roller derby (ARRG) with Kate and Jess. They really seemed to get a kick out of it. Kate was a bit relieved when she realized that she wouldn't have to be roller skating with them. She had never heard of roller skating as a spectator sport and was concerned about her stamina.

The above shot is from last weekend. I made a conscious decision to not take any pictures this weekend and to just enjoy my time with them. I don't want to become the crazy Aunt behind the camera.

Jess and Ani both developed a huge girl crush on Downtown Dallas, the sassy jammer for the Smashinistas. I took the shot above with her on the left at the last match we saw her play. She was on the cover of the program and they had to have her autograph it for them on her picture. Kate, however, had no interest in her as she was on the team her Uncle Mike was rooting against. She is absolutely loyal to whatever her Uncle Mike tells her to be.

They had a sleep over in my living room. All the junk I had let them eat came back to bite me in the butt as I was woken up at 3 a.m. by Kate who had managed to throw up all the way down the hall to the bathroom and wall to wall, including a bit that actually made it into the toilet. Angie said that you have to watch her as she doesn't know when to stop, kind of like her Aunt. Mike said that she should come with a warning label, "Will consume food to the point of vomiting."

She was fine this morning and we went to a local coffee house which the girls thought was quite amazing since there was a living room in the restaurant. It really is up to me to get these girls some culture and diversity in their lives. I then took them to my alma mater, Lindenwood University, which is just a few blocks away from where I live. There was lots of shade for them to run around and play tag.

We drove around the campus and they oohed and aahed all the pretty buildings and I told them all the ghost stories. At least 2 of them said this is where I want to go to college. It's all part of my plan to entice them into choosing Lindenwood when the time comes so they will be close. Chances aren't good that this plan will come to fruition as they are very independent girls but you never know.


Capturing the Action!

Oh to have Jessica's ankles even though they are blurred out above. Look how high she is flying. These are from a quick trip to the farm last weekend to visit the girls. We spent the majority of the time down by the lake were they enjoyed the cool water and I did my photography assignment for the week, which was playing with shutter speeds.

The top shot was my best panning shot and my teacher told me that I should enter it into the upcoming Photography Society of America's competition on movement. This is like the highest compliment she can give and since she is often a judge of their competitions I am seriously considering doing it. Panning is when you set a slow shutter speed like 1/30 of a second and move the camera with the action. The person/thing moving doesn't have to be crystal clear which is what was bothering me about some of my attempts but just needs to be relatively clear, like Jess is. The background should be blurred and show the movement.The second shot is also with a slow shutter speed which shows the water as one silky entity rather than the individual droplets that you see with a normal shutter speed. It helps to have a tripod for sure when using slow shutter speeds but when dealing with moving kids you have to just hold the camera as steady as you possibly can.

I had an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon the other day to check things out before we go on vacation. As I mentioned I've felt like I've regressed the past 3 weeks and have been having lots of weird pains and tenderness. My suspicions were unfortunately correct. There are actually two things going on in my ankle. For one thing I have a screw loose. I've gotten a kick out of using that line but I guess it's not a laughing matter. I can feel it moving around down there but it's not where the pain is coming from so they are going to leave it alone for the time being. If it starts causing problems or if some of its pals also start leaving the plate they will have to go in and take them out.

But the real problem is something that occasionally happens when there is trauma in the bones. My ligaments in between the two fractured bones are turning into bone which is called ossification. The x-rays from 6 weeks don't show anything but the one from this week has all kinds of white bone growth were there shouldn't be any. There isn't really anything they can do to stop it. If it gets worse they will have to do surgery to remove it. It obviously can be painful and he said to use Ibuprofen and call him if it gets more painful.

Mike said that he never should have told me that there was something actually wrong. I have a tendency to make excuses when I'm feeling lazy He said he can hear me now saying, "Can you get me a soda, my ossification is bothering me." The one good thing is that there is nothing to stop me from going and enjoying my vacation. My doctor said to just bring an ice pack and end the day with some Ibuprofen and a glass of wine. I think I can follow those doctor's orders!


Making me laugh.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Mark Frauenfelder
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So I was catching up on my Colbert Report viewing on the DVR yesterday. I watched an episode that aired last week with an interview of Mark Frauenfelder, the editor of Make magazine. Make is a brother to Craft magazine which I've read before and has a lot of great crafty ideas. Make is a more masculine magazine for manly projects like making a remote control lawnmower or building a chicken coup in your backyard.

The interview is about his newly released book called Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World. I found the exchange very informative and Stephen's reactions to the gadgets he brought was amusing. For those of you who don't watch the Colbert Report you should know that Stephen Colbert is a persona that is everything I hate about the far right, but he does it in a hilarious way.

Mark tells him why he loves making things with his hands that he can share with his friends since it is like sharing a part of himself. Stephen said that is exactly why he prefers buying mass produced crap since he doesn't have to worry about throwing it away and breaking that connection. You can watch the entire exchange from their website by clicking on the box above.

I've got the book in my cart on Amazon and I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to read it.


Scottish Pride

A few months ago I went to the Missouri Tartan Day celebration down on Main Street St. Charles. My maiden name/middle name is Lenox hence Lenox Knits. I knew that Lenox/Lennox was an old Scottish clan name but I had no idea how old. I started talking to the vendor St. Croix Weaving and when he heard my name was Lenox he got excited. He said that it was the oldest of the known tartans and he had never woven it before.

I decided to get my father a golf towel for Father's Day and my mother 2 place mats for her birthday which was last week. The bold red and green plaid above is a representation of the old Lennox tartan. The colors are very Christmassy and I'm sure Mom can use them as part of her elaborate decorations for the holiday if nothing else.

I was blown away by the craftsmanship of their work. The colors are rich and the details are lovely. You can special order on-line and they will custom weave your family tartan for you. I think they make very personal gifts with that handmade touch.

You can look up you surname at this free site and see what your family tartan is if you are originally from Scotland or Ireland. Most of the tartans date from the 18th Century with a revival of the Highlands but there is some documentation of the colorful plaids throughout Scottish history. I think it would be really cool to trace my Lenox roots back to the old country and have always wanted to travel there before I die.

I found this info on the site:
Families with the surname 'Lennox' are usually considered related to Clans Stewart or MacFarlane. Some of this surname also choose to wear this distinctive and ancient 'Lennox' tartan. D.W. Stewart reproduced the sett from a 'lost' portrait of the Countess of Lennox dating from the 16th century.


Bloolights Special

The boys played out last night for the first time in almost a year. Lots of people turned out for it and a nice evening was had by all. It was at the St. Charles Coffee House which has a fun atmosphere. Hopefully we will be invited back in the future.

I got to hang out with some good friends and afterwards one of Mike's old friends took us out for drinks and reflections.
A group of Mike's recently graduated seniors came out with posters they had made celebrating him. There was also a table of his former students from over 7 years ago. I think that says a lot about him as a teacher. He really makes such an impact on his kids. They both adore and respect him which comes through in many ways. It's always weird for me to meet his students for the first time. They usually have some preconceived idea of me that he conveys in stories he tells or embellishes. It's kind of like being the wife of a rock star at times with the adoration that he receives.

Kai's girlfriend stood him up with a family emergency so I got to hang with him as well. It's nice to know that he isn't too cool to hang out with us on a Friday night yet. He starts high school next year and has a very sweet new girlfriend. She has even friended us on Facebook which I hope means they will last at least through the summer. He actually took one of my favorite shots from the night. The black and white one, although it's not in focus you can see Mike's eyes clearly and almost the sweat on his brow. Kai really has such a good eye for composition.

They sold a few CD's which Mike had slaved over all week. It's of their original songs which they have recorded in our basement. It's named after his grandmother who was not the most supportive of people to put it mildly. But in her death she left them the money which payed for all of his equipment and his brother's drum set. I'm sure she is rolling over in her grave knowing what her tightly guarded dollars went towards.

You can hear a few of their originals on the bloolights website, not updated in quite a while mind you.


No blog Vacation!

Someone asked if I would be still blogging during my summer shop holiday. For sures to that. My blog is definitely just as important of a hobby and outlet as my knitting now. As work gets stressful over the summer I may not have as much time to keep up with all of you but I'll still be around.

I just applied to my favorite craft show of the year, the Strange Folk Festival. I got an e-mail reminder but also a notice that they are getting record applications this year with the growth of the festival last year. She stressed that just because we were accepted last year does not guarantee a spot this year. So keep your fingers crossed with me that I get a spot. I do so enjoy the spirit and camaraderie of my fellow strange folks each year.

The application stresses the importance of branding and web presence. I hope that my shop being closed this summer doesn't affect my chances. The fact that my blog is the first one that comes up on the first page when you google it should help. I'm wishing I'd had time to do some new pictures to enter but I really wanted to get my application in before we went on vacation. I used the one at the top which I think is interesting and has a lot of views on Flickr and a few other favorites from last Fall. I'll keep you posted.


Summer Vacation for my shop!

Be like the flower, turn your face to the sun.
-- Kahlil Gibran
I had an etsy sale last week and instead of being happy about it I was annoyed. I thought now I have to get it wrapped up and go to the Post Office and with everything else that was on my plate last week with my car in the shop, etc. it was just one more thing to deal with. So I've decided to give my shop a nice vacation for the summer. I'm putting her to rest until August so that I can regroup and get my act together with better pictures and fresh inventory.

I only had 15 items listed with most of them things that had been hanging around the shop for at least a year, like the Summer Flowers wristcuff above. I will take some time this summer to put my new photography skills to work and get some new images to really showcase my scarves.

I'm starting to get my motivation to knit back. There were over 3 months when I just wasn't feeling it this year. Mike had set up a router in the living room for the laptop when I was on my back with the broken ankle. I let myself get into the habit of coming home and getting online rather than knitting to relax after work.

I told Mike last month that I didn't think I was going to have enough inventory at the rate I was going for this year's craft show season. So he decided that I couldn't handle having the laptop right next to my couch and he came and took it away. I still have my desktop in my craft room of course but I'm less inclined to waste hours on it and treat it more like my business/photography station.

So I think I'm going to put up an etsy mini of my favorites for the meantime. I'll be back with a full selection of colorful Fall accessories in August.


900 feedback and not counting...

I had a friend ask me this weekend if I knew any sellers on Etsy that do inlay work so I went into my favorites and purchases and looked around. I didn't find what I was looking for but I did discover that I have recently crossed over into 900 positive feedbacks. I'd say about 70 of them are from buyers but that still leaves me over 800 purchases since I joined in April 2007.

I never know whether to be embarrassed or proud of my ever growing buyer history on Etsy. Today I've decided to embrace it and showcase some of the sellers that I return to again and again for my handmade fix. I made a treasury east here with some of my favorite sellers most of whom I've made multiple purchases from through the years.

That includes a whole lot of supplies when I was on a yarn, button, and bead buying frenzy a few years ago. I have bought 75% of all the gifts I've given the past few years on Etsy as well as the majority of my bath and beauty products. I am always on the prowl for sales and I have a Saturday evening ritual of shopping the Saturday Night Specials thread in the forums. It has really faded away to just a few die hard sellers but they include some of my favorites.

This Saturday I treated myself to one of Under Glass's spoon pendants which was on a huge markdown for her moving sale to 40% off. Her SNS was a free pendant with purchase which is perfect since I love having one of her pieces to gift as she wraps them up so beautifully. I also found her SNS secret item so I got a free pair of earrings. So that means for $25 I got two handmade pendants, one for me & one for a gift, and a pair of earrings like these that will be perfect for my niece Kate. I would say that I'm pretty darn good at shopping if I do say so myself.


My challenging Week

"In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins; not through strength, but through persistence."

I took these shots in Dallas a few weeks ago. The girls have a lake full of birds and turtles right behind their house which was perfect for practising with my new telephoto lens. I like the above turtle shot. I watched the poor guy try to pull himself up for 15 minutes. I have felt a lot like the turtle this week, just barely keeping my head above water.

It's getting super busy at work. We currently have a 50% increase in enrollment over last year at this time. Before too long we will run out of anything to put them in which in some ways makes it easier but it's not fun having to turn people away empty handed either.

Of course, Mike has started his summer siesta. I'm trying really hard this year to not be resentful since he had to take care of me for 6 weeks this winter and do pretty much everything around the house. But it seems like the fates are working hard to keep me bitter about it. For example, I was driving home from work 2 days ago when I heard my brakes grinding and acting weird. I called Mike and asked if he could call somewhere and try to get my car in the next day. He said that he had a busy day and already had a tee time set up which just infuriated me for some reason.

He did manage to get it in for the afternoon but not without complaint. During the same phone call I was telling him that I had several really sharp pains in my foot again that day and that it was very tender. He interrupted me to tell me that I had forgotten to put cheddar cheese on the list that week so he wouldn't be able to fix dinner that night.

I pretty much hung up on him at this point. I know my problems aren't worse than many people in the world but I can pretty much guarantee that my brakes going out and my ankle pain is worse than his tee time conflict and a lack of cheddar cheese on his dinner.
I took this shot of my sister's dogs playing. I know it looks like they are fighting but they are actually good pals. Mike and I always kiss and make up before we go to bed and honestly I'm totally over it now but I just wanted to vent for a minute. We are supposed to go to the farm this weekend with the kids but a part of me really wants to just stay home and sleep. If my car is still not ready today that might be my excuse but I do hate to disappoint the kids.


Dress shopping Just for You!

So wedding season is now upon us. For most of us that means shopping for a wedding present or two and hunting for the perfect dress for the occasion. As most of you know I am a plus size diva and am always on the lookout for websites that cater to us. I believe that I may have recently found the perfect place to shop for that special occasion dress for people of absolutely any size. eShakti , tagline Just the Way You Are, has sizes 0-26 and will actually custom make a dress to your exact measurements whatever they are.

If you like a dress but prefer that the sleeves be short or capped or the length below the knee, or the neckline scooped, etc. you can have them change it for only $15 more. Their prizes are incredibly reasonable with most dresses falling in the $50-70 range. And when you register with their site they will e-mail you a gift code for $15 off your first purchase.

Here is what their site says:

In short, via the net, we ensure that every garment is uniquely made, for a specific customer. Our service is super-fast. We are accessible by toll-free phone and email. We listen hard, and keep in step with the customer. There is no one else who gives you guaranteed full size selections at all time.

This is not a sponsored post and I actually haven't bought anything from them yet. This is merely a service announcement since I know many of you are probably thinking about what to wear to that wedding later this summer and I wanted to help a sister out. The ones I'm showing are a few that I'm considering for our friend's beach themed wedding later this summer. I'm going to wait a month to order it since I'm hoping to have dropped a dress size by then.

(c) Lenox Knits, 2009|Created by NSD