Thursday, November 2, 2017

Moose Watching

      When we were in Colorado this summer, there was a pond near the road that the local moose loved to visit in the afternoon. 

     Ten or twelve of us photographed her from the road, but she didn't seem to mind.  There was a barbed wire fence between us so perhaps she knew none of us would cross the fence to bother her.

    One of people spotted her calf in some tall weeds on the other side of the pond.  He or she was very well hidden.

    My edited close-up is a bit blurry.

  A day or so later she was back in the pond.  Or at least a moose was in the same pond. I'm not sure if its the same moose. She also had a calf. This one looks older and bigger to me, but I'm no moose expert. 

     Moose are such amazing animals.  Huge, too.  I saw my first one in Maine in a state park pond.  In Alaska I saw a momma moose and her calf very close to the Visitor's Center in Denali.  Lots of people around, but at least no wolves to snatch her calf. So she was a smart moose.
     I've made some moose inspired jewelry, too.  

If you like moose jewelry, too, check out my Etsy shop to see what's currently available.

Friday, August 25, 2017

An Interview About My Perfect Vacation on the CIJ Blog

    An interview about my perfect vacation spot was featured on the CIJ (Christmas in July) blog today.   You can read about it here.
     If you're looking for vacation ideas, check it out.  Other members of the team have been featured this week, too.  Super places from around the world are being featured.  
     Great arm chair travels.

Monday, August 7, 2017

An Escape to Nederland

    With temperatures soaring past 110°F here, it was time to escape the desert.  We took off for Nederland, Colorado, a small town nestled in the Rocky Mountains.  Nederland is west of Boulder at an altitude that’s a cool 8200 ft.  We chose it because I had arranged to do a workshop with my favorite bead artist, Heidi Kummli, who lives nearby.   It was a magical week that included beading, hiking, wildlife viewing and happy hours.   

      Boulder Creek was right behind our Lodge. An easy walking trail is next to it so you can hear the relaxing sound of the mountain stream.    
       The town is small and picture perfect.   This covered bridge leads to Crosscut Pizzeria & Tap House, which makes the best wood fired pizza I've ever eaten.  A huge selection of craft beers are available, too.  We shared the patio with the other pizza lovers and their dogs.  Nederland is a very dog-friendly town.  

     We hiked a lot.  The mountain are spectacular.   The lakes, when we could reach them, were beautiful. 

   The highlight of the wildlife was a moose and her calf that we saw a couple of times.  She was very accommodating by standing in a pond that was right beside the road.  My knees appreciated her thoughtfulness!

  One day we drove the scenic Peak to Peak highway to Estes Park.

          We returned to Lily Lake, where we had hiked a few years ago.  We walked around the lake and saw ducklings, ground squirrels, and a muskrat. On our first visit we had seen a beaver lodge. Unfortunately they died a year or so after our visit. However, a ranger at the Lake said that a young beaver has been spotted a few times recently.  Maybe the next time we go back we'll see beavers.  

      The day I spent beading with Heidi was wonderful.  She helped me lay out a pattern and place my first 3 cabochons. This is my most ambitious project so far so it will take a while to complete.  More to come on this subject.
       In the meantime, we soaked up the mountain air and tried to pack it in our suitcases.  Too soon we had to return to the heat of the valley.  But we loved Nederland and plan to return soon.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Fishing, Alaska Style

Fishing, Alaska Style

     It's a great time of year in Katmai National Park in Alaska. Salmon are running and bears are feasting.  Every day hundreds of visitors are flocking to Alaska to view the bears. An estimated 20,000 viewed them in 2016.     
     I'm watching the bears, too, but remotely from Arizona.  In fact, I have breakfast and lunch with them almost every day.  The bear cams located at Brooks Falls are better than ever and very popular.   

  This experienced fisherman knows he only has to wait patiently and the fish will come to him.

This younger bear has picked a spot further down the river, away from the big guys.  It looks like luck is with him today as he holds his snagged fish.

The site is not only fun, it's educational. The Park Service provides free e-books that teach about grizzly bears. Even more interesting is that it tells us the name, age, sex and other known information about individual local bears.  Ranger talks are broadcast frequently, too.   For anyone who isn't fortunate enough to watch the grizzly bears in person, the bear cams provide the next best chance to see these great animals up close.  

So the next time you have a few spare minutes or need a relaxing break, check out the Brooks Falls Bears.  Just be careful--bear cams are addictive!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Pop-up Market for Christmas in July

     My Etsy shop is one of 12 shops being featured in today's Christmas in July Pop-up Market!   There are 12 shops, all from the U.S.  They can be reached by going to today's CIJ blog post, located here.

     This is the first time I've been involved in this adventure.  So far I've met some very nice shop owners from other parts of the country.   Also, it's a lot easier than setting up for our Grand Boutiques.  No tables to move.  No items to unpack and arrange on the tables.    LOL  

     Also I have to say that a Virtual Market is a lot more comfy than a real outdoor market on a hot, hot July day in Arizona.

Saturday, July 1, 2017


      It's officially Christmas in July and time for the huge CIJ Etsy team sale.  I'm participating this year with my Desert Dabbler shop.  All of the handcrafted jewelry is on sale at 10% off.  
     In shops all over Etsy there will be sales on everything from accessories to zippers over 850,000 items on sale.  That number will probably grow as more shops get involved.
      To locate items easily you can search using CIJ or ChristmasinJuly in Etsy search, found at    I'm using the CIJ tag on my items, but some shops are using the longer tag.
     Another easy way to find sale items is the Etsy On Sale site, which is at

       In addition to the sale, the CIJ Team is planning 10 days of activities on their Blog.

July 1st – Welcome To Etsy Christmas In July 2017 – #EtsyCIJ 2017
July 2nd – CIJ Team & Wandarrah Team Cross Promotion
July 3rd – CIJ Team Leaders: Feature
July 4th – #CIJPopUpMarket #1: International Shops
July 5th – #CIJParty
July 6th – #CIJPopUpMarket #2: USA Shops
July 7th – #CIJPopUpMarket #3
July 8th – #CIJPopUpMarket #4
July 9th – CIJ Team Members: Best Photos From the #CIJLovesJuly Photo Challenge
July 10th – Happy Etsy Christmas In July 2017 To All, And To All A Good Night! – #EtsyCIJ 2017

      Desert Dabbler is one of the shops in the July 6 Pop Up Market.  Very exciting!  I'm not sure what to expect, but it will be an adventure.   I hope you'll stop by.

     The sale runs until July 10.   Happy shopping!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Quail Chicks in the Courtyard

Quail Chicks in the Courtyard

     I was working in the casita this morning when I heard the clucking of a Gambels Quail family. When I looked out my window I saw them scurrying around the plants.  Quickly I grabbed my camera.

     These little guys have feathers so they are a few weeks old. When they're first hatched they look like fuzz balls on stilts.  They zoom around the yard following their mom and dad at an amazing speed.  I've never been able to get a picture of them at that stage. They're invisible against the gravel, which is probably best.  We have owls, hawks and other predatory birds here that would love a quail snack. 
     The adults are great parents. One leads the group and one brings up the rear.  They never leave the chicks unattended. Once they were in the casita the male flew to the top of the wall to watch for danger.  
      They stayed ten or fifteen minutes hunting through the seeds and leaves. Some people around here pick up every leaf and seed that drops. Some even call it "litter".  
      As you can see, I'm not one of those people! I see seeds and leaves as part of the food chain.  Although looking at these pictures, I realize I could tidy up a little and still have a banquet of left overs for the wildlife.  Maybe I'll do that when it cools down. In the meantime I'm enjoying watching these guys feast.

  One of the adults, probably the female but I'm not sure.

A solo chick

I hope the quail enjoyed their breakfast and come back soon.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Christmas is July

      Christmas in July is a big Etsy event that will run from July 1 through July 10 this year.  It's shaping up to be a fun event. Shop sales, promo’s, give-aways, and free tutorials are all planned.  The Christmas in July (CIJ) blog can be found at

      In addition to the 10 day sale, there’s going to be a “Pop-up Market” on July 6.  I’m really thrilled because my shop, DesertDabbler, will be one of the seven shops participating in the Market!  I'll have more info on this event later.

        Lots of Etsy shops will be participating in the ten day Christmas in July event.  Each shop can choose whatever they want to offer for the sale.  Discounts, free shipping, or other offers are some of the ideas being discussed. I plan to offer 10% off of all items in my shop. All you have to do is use the coupon code EtsyCIJ17 when you make your purchase. 

         So mark your calendar now! The sale will run July 1- 10 and the big Pop-up Market will be July 6.  I'll post the link to the market later.

          In the meantime, if you see something you like in my shop and don't want to wait until me.  I'll let you know how you can take advantage of the 10% off.   

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

K-2 Pendant Finished

Updated K-2 Pendant Necklace

   Here's the updated K-2 pendant.  I changed the necklace to a braided Kumihimo style with a black toggle clasp.  It's much more secure now.  Looks even better than the original suede cord necklace, too.
    I almost lost the pendant, which is what caused me to re-do it.  I had worn the necklace when Kent & I went out to lunch. I wanted to check how it felt and hung.  When we got back to the car, the cord was hanging on my neck, but the pendant was gone.  Yikes! The original hook and eye had come undone and the pendant had slipped off.
     I raced back into the restaurant. Luck for me, the pendant was right by the table. I was so glad I found it unharmed. I knew I didn't want anyone else to risk losing it, so I changed the necklace.  Now it's braided into the necklace.    
      I've listed it in my Etsy shop. You can see the listing here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

K2 --The Awesome Stone from the Mountain

                                                     Image©iStockphoto and PatrickPoendl

       Many people know that K2 is the second highest mountain in the world, after Mount Everest.  Standing 28,251 feet above sea level, on the China-Pakistan border, it's an impressive and awesome mountain.

     What is less known, but word is spreading quickly, is that an impressive and beautiful stone is being mined from the base of K2. Coming from the Skardu area of northern Pakistan, K2 is a grayish-white granite rock with bright blue splashes of color. One writer called it an "eye magnet" for anyone seeing it for the first time. It certainly was for me.

      The first K-2 cab I saw, I bought.  I was at the Tucson Gem Show earlier this year and found it at one of the open air rock hound booths.  The couple only had a few pieces of it on display, and I bought the biggest one I could afford.  They had a pair of smaller matched cabs that would have made great earrings, but the combo was too pricey for me.  Besides, at that time I had never heard of K2.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money on stones I didn't know anything about. So I limited myself to this oval beauty until I could discover more.  

      What I found wasn't a lot.  It looks like the first cabs started showing up around 3 or 4 years ago, but not on any of the major beading sites that I buy from. It was chosen as the Rock of the Month in May, 2014 by Body Mind Spirit Guide.  It is currently featured at Dakota Stones. but this is the only major site that I can find carrying it.  

      The experts aren't in total agreement on what comprises the stone.  Most, if not all of them, agree it is granite. There are a few places that call it "jasper", but that appears to be incorrect.  The blue spots are probably azurite or malachite when they are green, which I haven't seen.  Most authorities call the spots "stains" rather than "inclusions" because you can see through the blue spots to the granite. But regardless of its scientific properties, all of the sites agree that K2 is unique and exciting.

      I was able to find more K2 cabs in some shops on Etsy.  I bought my second cab there at SlabsCabsRough, a shop from Pennsylvania.  I've already started turning it into a pendent:  
      In addition to its beauty, many people believe that the stone has metaphysical properties.  Pat Krajovic wrote in Body Mind Spirit Guide, "It has many healing properties. If you want to promote harmony and connection within your work and family groups, communicate your deepest thoughts and feelings, and have more control over your emotions, this stone is a must! K2 helps the user become more grounded, balanced and live in harmony."

       If you're into make jewelry, check out Etsy for some great buys on K2. If you like to leave the making to someone else, check back soon. I'll announce when I've completed the K2 necklace and listed it at Desert Dabbler on Etsy.  

Monday, April 24, 2017

Porcelain Jasper Butterflies

      At the Tucson gem show a few years ago I found a great shop called Colorwright.  Amount the treasures that I found there were a pair of Porcelain Jasper cabochons shaped like butterfly wings.    


    I bought the cabs, along with some other great stones, and put them away until inspiration struck. I also knew I needed to do more bead embroidery so my skills would improve. Working the irregular shaped cabs was going to be more challenging than going around an oval or round shaped cab.
    The next year I went back to the Tucson Gem Show and found Colorwright again. I also found another pair of Porcelain Jasper butterfly wings  This time the cabs were on sale! I immediately bought another set, even though I still had the first cabs waiting in my stash.  But as any beader will tell you, you need to buy a great stone when you see it.
    While the Porcelain Jasper sat in my drawer I worked on other jewelry, gradually increasing the complexity of the projects. But the whole time I kept thinking about those jasper butterflies.    

   Finally I thought I was ready. I made the first pair of wings into a brooch.

     Then I made a necklace with different style of edging. The cabs here are actually the first ones I bought; the ones you can see in the top picture.
     I used a variety of seed beads and Charlottes to give the lacy look on the wings edges.  The body of the butterflies are a combination of onyx, crystals, and black Spinel.  
     Porcelain Jasper is found in Sonora, Mexico, in a variety of pinks, greys, and corals.  These butterflies are different colors and not meant to be worn at the same time.  They were challenging to make, especially their antennae, but I'm happy with the results.  

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Tree of Life

 tree of life: vector heart tree on white background Illustration

Tree of Life

     The idea of a Tree of Life exists in nearly every culture, religion, and tradition from ancient times to the present.  The Tree appears from the beginning in the Garden of Eden described in Genesis, and its bark plays a major role in the Iroquois creation.  Scientists, poets and artists all find something fascinating about the Tree.  Charles Darwin discussed the concept of a Tree of Life in his book, The Origin of Species (1872), and trees in general were described beautifully (and famously) by poet Joyce Kilmer.   The PBS program “Nature” features a wide tree in Africa in its opening, and the movie “Avatar” gave the Tree a starring role.    
     So it’s not surprising that artists (including jewelry makers) have added their ideas and interpretations to the Tree of Life.  A quick web search on Tree of Life images will show you a dazzling variety of Tree of Life paintings, photographs, and interpretations, like the one pictured above.
      One of my favorite companies, TierraCast, makes Tree of Life charms, clasps, and links. I've used them in my jewelry for a long time.  

1.       My latest Tree of Life pendants have been made out of wire and gemstone chips.

  I've been working on my own little forest:

    If you've made a Tree of Life pendant or other item, let me know. I'd love to see it.  If you'd like to learn to make one, check out YouTube for great tutorials and ideas.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Three Books on Rocks, Gems and Crystals

      I've been looking for a couple of new books to add to my collection on rocks and gem stones.  The first one I found, Collecting Rocks, Gems and Minerals, is written by a Quartzsite resident, Patti Polk.  I bought the book on Amazon right before Thanksgiving and have been looking at it ever since.  It is jam packed with beautiful photos of the rocks and more geological information than I will ever need. It's a great buy, with over 330 pages of information, plus two pages of additional resources and an excellent index.    

     Every entry includes a colored box with the Hardness factor plus a few other details such as rock group, locations where it is found, or current prices.  This makes it easy to see this limited information without having to read through the description.  
     The descriptions are generally one paragraph and give different information that varies with each rock. For some the historical uses are listed. Others include information on the ranges of colors or designs available, it's current uses, chemical composition, etc.  There's no set pattern.
      My favorite part of the book is it's extensive information on agates. Over 40 pages with great pictures! I had been confused about the difference between agate and jasper.  Now I know that agates are translucent and can include bands, "eyes" and other patterns.  Jasper is opaque and more dense and filled with inclusions.      
       I buy my rocks and stones at shows and stores. However, for those who want to hunt and collect their own rocks, the book has sections on the equipment you'll need and how to find them. 

        For a non-geological view of rocks and minerals I found two books in my local library.  The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall and Gem Stones A to Z by Diane Stein.  I plan to purchase my own copy of The Crystal Bible, which is available on Amazon, along with Volumes 2 and 3. 

       The Crystal Bible is also filled with great photographs and colorful pop out boxes of information that makes it quick and easy to look up information.  More details are found below the boxes and include the attributes and healing uses for each stone.  While I would never substitute stones and gems for my doctor's prescriptions, I do find the information fascinating to read. I know some people put more emphasis on this than I do. I'm just starting to read this book, so maybe I'll become more of a believer by the end. (Probably not.)
       I like that the book has  a Quick Reference section so you can find limited info very quickly. There is a section on crystals and the zodiac that gives a number of different stones associated with each sign. My favorite quick section is the one on meanings. Turquoise, one of my favorite stones, means a journey is imminent.  Maybe there is a connection since I love to travel.
       I was especially happy to see that The Crystal Bible is filled with information about stones I use in my jewelry.  Whenever I list an item for sale in my Etsy shop I like to include something interesting. Something that goes beyond the price and what I used to make it.  This book will be another great resource I can use for that. I hope to go through my listings soon to add to them.

        So if you're looking for a new reference book on rocks take a look at these three. If your library has one or more of them, check them out first there. For a scientific book, Collecting Rocks, Gems, and Minerals is great. Easy to read and interesting. The beautiful pictures and wide range of information made it my favorite book.
       For a metaphysical approach, The Crystal Bible is tops. I was hesitant about buying it, even though it had been recommended to me by a few people.  Now, after seeing it, I plan to buy it soon.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Wednesday Surprise

    My 2017 is starting off nicely. I was one of the 4 Etsy shops featured in today's  "Wednesday Surprise" from The Vintage Addiction Lifestyle Team.  The featured items were all copper, one of my favorite things. You can see the post and items at TVAT Wednesday Surprise.

     One of the fun things about Etsy is its sense of community.  Teams are a way to connect with people who share your same interests or who are simply great people.  Over 350 people belong to TVAT. Their shops are located all over the U.S., and Canada.  Plus they have some active members in England, France, and a few other countries.

     Although I don't sell vintage items, I like them. A few of my jewelry pieces have a vintage look, and of course, I'm vintage myself.  So its no surprise that TVAT is one of my favorite teams.    

       What a great start to the new year!