Sharing the Event of Mother’s Day

I may not be rich. I may not be successful. I may not be gorgeous. But I make a darn cute kid, as is evidenced by the photos I’m including. Yes, I’m showing her off today. That’s practically my sole reason for blogging. She’s cute. Indulge me. Eddie treated me to a brunch at Montelle Winery in Augusta, MO, Sunday. If you know me, you know it’s one of my favorite places. To top it off, he even coordinated with my mom, and she came along, too! Three generations of Tracy/Adamson/Strimel girls noshing on good food. What could be better?

In spite of the wonderful parts, Mother’s Day was bittersweet this year. It was our last day in St. Louis and my brand new pregnancy–just confirmed last Wednesday–began miscarrying late the day before. Kind of a kick in the pants for a day devoted to mothers but, hey, stuff happens. I figured I could sit around all crampy and sad or just buck up and get on with business. I got on with business, and it was a nice day. Now I don’t advocate miscarrying and moving 700 miles in three days, but it taught me about strength and the human mind. It’s a load of crap that happiness is what you make it but…big but…you can do a lot to turn things around just with your head.

So my sage advice that I like to offer along with these philosophical pieces is this: take care of yourself, take care of those you love, and remember that you are stronger than you think you are. I don’t care who you are, what’s wrong with you, or what you’ve been through in the past…you will surprise yourself by what you can handle. And if you need to sit down and cry once it’s all over, that’s okay too.

Oh, and if you’ll permit me a couple of seconds…I think this little one was a boy. I just want to tell the world that he existed even though it was just a few weeks. If there’s a heaven somewhere, I hope he’s with his little sibling and all the little ones like him.

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Trendy DIY: The Agate Necklace

Here’s a little-known fact about me: I love rocks. I’m not talking about diamonds. I’m talking rocks, minerals, stones…well, and gemstones, too. One of my most prized possessions is a wooden board I made when I was 3. After a trip to the river, I glued a hodgepodge of river rocks to it. One of these is my “gut” rock that resembles what my 3-year-old mind assumed chicken guts looked like. It ranks right up there with my wedding ring in importance! This fascination probably explains my love of all the currently-trendy mineral and stone jewelry.

I’ve been looking for the perfect agate or geode statement necklace. The problem is that while I love the look of these natural stones, I don’t like the fussiness that some designers incorporate. These are stand-alone materials. Why muck it up with charms and feathers? Of course when I do find one I love, it’s more than I can (or want to spend). The whole DIY movement of late has really been good for me, which is how I arrived at this uber-simple project. I’ve been working hard to hone my jewelry-making skills, but on a scale of easy to difficult, this is beyond easy.

I really liked this agate style from Vanessa Mooney but between the $150 price tag and the ‘out of stock’ status, it really wasn’t a good option.

Vanessa Mooney Shelby Necklace

Once I really started looking at what I liked about this style, it dawned on me that it would be simple to assemble. Asymmetrical agate placement, bold chain…easy peasy. One trip to J0-Ann and $10.80 later, it was all but finished. Seriously…this is an assembly project. It’s practically made for you right out of the craft store.

Agates and geodes are readily available at Jo-Ann and Michael’s. This strand of natural purple agates from Jo-Ann was $12.99 for six (and are an additional 30% off this week). Because they are natural, no two strands are alike. I went through the blue, purple and natural colors and found the strand that offered the best shape and color for my taste. If you look closely, the strand is connected with heavy-weight jump rings. They are so sturdy (and fit the drilled stones so perfectly) that I used those in the assembly of the necklace.

Purple agates from Jo-Ann

From there, it was as simple as choosing a chain. I liked the idea of something substantial for this but go as dainty as you’d like. My chain was $3.99 (and 25% off this week). I also picked up a bar toggle clasp (about $2) and some assorted silver jump rings (about $1.50).

Using two needle-nose pliers, I separated the jump rings on the agate I liked most and removed it from the chain of stones. Just by eyeballing it while draping the chain around my neck, I chose the length of the necklace and the placement of the agate. This was not precise by any means. Using both pliers again, I opened up links in the chain to attach the agate. This particular chain is so heavy that it was tough opening the links. I had enough chain to spare so I didn’t do it carefully and just allowed myself to ruin the link as I pried it open. The jump rings on the agate were already open, so I just affixed the stone to the chain this way. See below…

Once the agate was attached, I went back to the mirror to eyeball where I wanted the clasp. Again, I didn’t do any measuring. Once I determined how I wanted the agate to hang and how long I wanted the necklace to be, I wrestled the links again to remove extras. From there, it was as easy as affixing a jump ring to each end link and adding each piece of the toggle bar clasp.

From start to finish, this took 30 minutes. Most of the work went into separating the chain links. The richness of the stone doesn’t seem to display well in pictures (or maybe it’s my less-than-stellar photography equipment). I’m quite happy with the project and had tons of compliments from complete strangers when I wore it out.

If you’re inspired to create your own agate jewelry after this, please share a photo! And if you have questions, let me know.

Last St. Louis Hurrahs: Art Fair at Queeny Park

With our St. Louis days dwindling, we’re trying to get out and experience things we’ve been too busy for over the past five years. Today it was the Greater St. Louis Art Association‘s Art Fair at Queeny Park in Des Peres. I’m always shocked by how pretty St. Louis-area parks are, which makes me really sad that I didn’t indulge in them the whole time we’ve been here. To be honest, I had planned to take several pictures and review the fair. As soon as Zoey realized the fair wasn’t the rides and games type of event, the tantrums started and the pictures and etc. just didn’t happen. That being said, I did visit what I think may be the coolest pottery vendor I’ve ever seen.

Mississippi Mud Pottery (love the name) is based out of Alton, IL, just across the river. I like the idea of pottery but I rarely see pieces that really speak to me. I’m also rarely crazy about the earth tones so often used. I like the unexpected and a lot of pottery I’ve seen in the area is pretty but a little too ho-hum for my tastes (or wickedly expensive and I’m cheap). This stuff blew me away. I only bought two pieces but I could’ve gone crazy! The colors were so beautiful in eggplant purple and cranberry…really rich hues. The designs were outrageously cool. The pitcher below screamed Sangria to me and it was $55 (and it does have Sangria in it now). The pie plate/quiche plate was only $36 and would make the world’s best deep dish pie (if I could ever successfully make a pie).

Here’s the only downer: It seems like few, if any, of the pieces I saw today are actually on their site or in the photos section of their Facebook page, which is a shame. Maybe they’ll add them because the styles I saw today were knockouts. I think it was one of the artists, Chad, who was manning the booth. He told me that they can ship pieces. The site isn’t ready for ecommerce but a call or email is all it takes to make a purchase. With Mother’s Day around the corner, this might be a really cool gift idea (hint, hint).

Pitcher Style 3485

Large Pie/Quiche Dish Style 3342