Thursday, June 30, 2011

Since when did you need a bank loan to go to the movies?

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*This is a part of the Thursday rant series, a tongue in cheek look at my life.*

I had the opportunity to visit with family this week.  They don't live close, and I wanted to make sure my peeps had the chance to do some fun things with their older cousin.  All four of them LOVED the first "Cars" movie.  So when my sister found out we were going to be there when "Cars 2" was hitting the theater, she thought it would be a good time to take all of them to see it.

Little did I know that prices had gone up since the last time since I went to the movies.

If you would have told me before I went that I would pay the price of a really nice pair of shoes for two adults and three children for tickets, drinks and popcorn I would have said that you were smoking crack.  Apparently crack has gotten expensive.  All that came to just under $80.

How is a family of five supposed to do that on a regular basis??  Seriously, Hollywood.  While my boys loved the experience, next time, we'll just wait for the DVD.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wine tasting in northern Virginia

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I'm spending a few days with family in northern Virginia, and my sister (also a wine enthusiast), suggested we do a tasting at one of her local favorites, Sunset Hills Vineyard.  I am always up for a good afternoon of wine, so I jumped at the opportunity.  We left our peeps with our hubbies and away we went.

This is the view as you head up the driveway.   I love seeing local agriculture at work.

The beautiful barn where the tastings are held was Amish built. 

They have beautiful patio seating for anywhere from events to just stopping in to enjoy wine and tapas.

This is the view from the inside of the barn tasting room.  The picture doesn't do the barn justice.  The attention to detail is incredible.

We didn't get to taste this wine, but this is one of my sister's favorite.  We had it with dinner a few nights earlier.

The deck from the upper level has the most incredible views!  You can see more of the vines that you didn't see when driving in.

Another spectacular view from the balcony.

It was a beautiful way to spend the afternoon and a way to enjoy some local wine.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Gooey chocolate brownie recipe

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Hubby, peeps and I have been spending a couple of days with family.  My sister was doing dinner for all of us last night and I happened to walk in while she was making dessert.

I saw this lying there and thought....

Oh, this looks like it could be a good blog post.  

Super gooey batter, with chocolate chunks.  Looks good enough to eat doesn't cover it.  Shouldn't that be a skin conditioning wrap or something?

In the pan it goes.  (Don't forget to spray first, but I find the aluminum foil optional -- I use a silicone pan.)

The finished product.  (and don't they look even more delish next to the hydrangeas?)

My sister was kind enough to share the recipe.  Enjoy!

1/3 c dutch processed cocoa
1 1/2 tsp instant espresso (optional)
1/2 c plus 2 tbsp boiling water
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c plus 2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 c sugar
1 3/4 c unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 tsp table salt
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1.  Adjust over rack to lowest position and heat to 350.  Push foil into a baking pan, pushing it into all corners and crevices.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2.  Whisk cocoa, espresso, and boiling water in a large bowl until smooth.  Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until melted.  Whisk in melter butter and oil  (don't worry if it looks curdled).  Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla.  Continue to whisk.
3.  Whisk in sugar.  Add flour and salt and mix with rubber spatula until combined.  Fold in chocolate pieces.
4.  Scrape batter into pan and bake until inserted toothpick comes out clean (or with a few crumbs).   Allow to cool 1 1/2 hours.
5.  Use foil to lift brownies out of pan.  Allow to cool another 1 hour.  Cut into squares and serve.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pictures of Karma

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Yes, you're reading that correctly.  I have pictures of Karma...the cat that is.  (She is quite happy one of my blog readers wrote to check in on her.  "Eh - hem...that's the only time I get on the blog anymore..")

I had to interrupt bird watching time.  She's kinda getting to be a big girl.  Karma is declawed, so I think her only hope to get one is to smother it.

"Oh, you would like my picture?  Good enough now am I?"

"Let me get comfortable.  You're not going to have one of those little rug rats use me as a pillow in this picture, are you?"

(P.S.  Any and all fan mail can be sent to my email: Put Attn: Karma in the subject line)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I hate grocery shopping

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*This is a part of the Thursday rant series, a tongue in cheek look at my life.*

I've been asked a time or two just how I get everything done in my day.  One thing that helps (that took me a couple of years to realize) is that hubby does all the grocery shopping.  Now before you go all, "Aww" on me, it's really not a huge deal for him since he works there.  He's a bit of a bargain hound and knows where everything is.  This past Sunday was the first time in awhile that I've had to go to the grocery store with more than three items on my list.  (It was Father's Day after all, so he deserved that day off.)

Three little boys had to go with me as well.


What would have been a 7 or 8 minute trip for him turned into about to be 45 minutes for me, not to mention that I didn't get everything on the list.

I won't go into everything, but here's a few of my complaints:
  • Why can't every store be laid out the same?  (He works for a chain grocery store and hears this complaint from others as well.)
  • Why can't all of the same item be in one place?  I shouldn't have to look for ready made mashed potatoes in the dairy and meat sections.
  • There needs to be a big cage on wheels that I can put the peeps in.  Is that legal?
What bugs you about shopping?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Green golf balls

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Who would ever guess these are going to be orange fruit in a few months?  Right now, they're about the size of golf balls (green ones to be exact).

They're in little clusters like this all over my 8 foot tall orange tree.  The tree is pretty healthy and there are a TON of oranges on it this time.  (Last season's crop wasn't so great.)

Unfortunately, my grapefruit tree didn't make any fruit this year.  ??  Probably something I did....or didn't do. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

What do you hate about shopping online?

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I briefly mentioned last week about a few studio projects I'm working on.  One of those projects is upgrading KMS Designs.  It will, for the most part, look almost exactly the same.  Where the big changes come in to play is a better shopping cart system.  Which begs the question:

What do you hate about shopping online?

I'm going to add features I think will make the process better, but I don't want to miss anything.  Here's a few of the online shopping mistakes that I want to avoid with my new shopping cart:

  • General glitches and errors.  You shouldn't have to be constantly reloading pages.
  • Requiring as little as information as possible.  With all the computer security breaches nowadays, you have to wonder if your information will ever be safe again.
  • Easily findable information.  You shouldn't have to hunt an peck for what you want to know.
So, what's important to you?  SERIOUSLY, I want to know.  I've been doing this long enough that I'm afraid I'm missing something.  Please leave any and all comments in the box below.  (If you don't want your ideas made public, just drop me an email to

Your feedback is helpful and appreciated!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

So you want to be my friend?

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*This is a part of the Thursday rant series, a tongue and cheek look at my life.*

Ah, don't you love how the social networks like Facebook and Twitter let you find people?  And yes, they can find you too.  Even when you don't want to be found. 

I'm just going to lay it out here:  I am more likely to accept a friend request from you on Facebook if I know NOTHING about you.  I don't know that you're a stalker or self-obsessed Farmville player or talk drivel on incessantly about nothing.  It's the friend requests from people I know that can stay in limbo for awhile.  In fact, if I have known you a long time, consider yourself unusual that I am friends with you on Facebook.

Case in point:

I was picked on in school.  I was a smart kid from a farm.  Curve buster of sorts.  And farm kids didn't have the fanciest clothes, shoes, or toys either.  I might as well as had a big bullseye on my back with KICK ME in the middle.  (Wait, I might have at some point.)  So, if you're one of those people that took great pleasure in ruining days of my childhood, you might ought to take pause before you try to friend me...or at least add a really nice note to your request.  "Hey, I know it's been awhile, and I was a self-absorbed, b*tch in the making in school and completely lived my life to make every day of third grade hell for you, but I would like to make amends and be your friend now." 

Yeah, right.  I have waited thirty years for this moment.


Yeah, that was good.  (and much cheaper than therapy)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Resin jewelry - what's popular this week

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I learned two things several years ago when I started doing street festivals.

I can never predict what jewelry is going to be popular.
The same jewelry may not be popular for the next art show.

Apparently the wholesale art market isn't any different.

One of my best selling patterns last week was my resin cowgirl jewelry.  I don't sell this jewelry on my KMS Designs jewelry website, but on my other endeavor, Cow Art and More.  I was replenishing my inventory yesterday and I had hubby grab a few random picture of the pouring process.

Horseshoes and longhorns are in this batch.

There's also a few of the geometric and dottie patterns.  These will be ready to ship late Friday afternoon.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Resin jewelry making studio - what's next?

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So now that Las Vegas is done, you might be wondering what I'm doing next?  (yeah, me too)

  • Filling Las Vegas orders!
  • Working on my new website.  It won't look a whole lot different from the one I have now, but there will be a better shopping cart system.
  • Building up inventory of my new resin and pewter jewelry.
  • Starting to plan for Christmas orders.  Yes, I know it's June and it's super freakin' hot outside, but stores will start their orders for the Christmas season in July.
  • Finishing up a couple of art show applications.
What's on your agenda this summer?

Friday, June 10, 2011

New retail locations for KMS Designs resin jewelry

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I'm happy to share with you that starting next week, you will find Katherine Swift's resin jewelry at the following locations:

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Las Vegas - what happens here stays here

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*This is a part of the Thursday rant series, a tongue in cheek look at my life.*

Las Vegas.  Wow.  Decadence beyond anything I have imagined in a long while.  Here's what I learned about Las Vegas:
  1. I'm about 3 kids and 10 years too late making my first trip.
  2. Frank Sinatra will never be dead as long as there is a Las Vegas.
  3. In case you're inspired to be a pole dancer, every shoe store you walk into has a HUGE assortment for you to choose from to wear immediately.
  4. To be sober at 6 PM in the evening is apparently against the rules.
  5. Nothing is free (except maybe the view).
I took a few random cell phone pictures of the trip.  Enjoy!

This is Lizardo da Vinci (or some similar name).  He was there to greet you at the Orlando airport security check.

Enjoying a gin and tonic before seeing "Le Reve" at the Wynn casino.  I don't know what it takes to get free drinks in this town.  I couldn't believe that a pre-show cocktail for me and my friend was almost $25.  (Seriously!)  Apparently they get suckers like me to overpay to keep the free drinks flowing to the high rollers.

The "Le Reve" stage.  It was a beautiful show.  To sum it up, it was a "Cirque du Soleil" style show involving water.

This is all the closer I will ever get to owning a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes.  Too bad the picture doesn't show how sparkly they are.

More casino "bling".  This is from the Judith Ripka line of jewelry.  Lots of sparkle here too.  (No price tags shown.  I suppose if you have to ask, you can't afford it.)

The street view of the casino "New York New York".  Yeah, easy to see how it gets the name.

Now you get to see some pictures from my favorite dinner while I was there at Roy's Hawaiian fusion.

A lovely pear salad with gouda and fruit meant to be "caviar".

A mango mojito.  (The second one I think.)

The view from the monorail station at the Las Vegas convention center.

Our last night there, we had dinner at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay.  The dinner was just okay, but it was cool having live music while we ate dinner.

Incredibly happy to be home!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Asking for an art donation

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Phew!  Glad to be back from my Las Vegas trip.  (Home is always a good place to be.)  I've got some pictures from the trip to post for tomorrow, but in the meantime, this is an article I wrote while I was away about how to ask an artist for an art donation.  I get many requests from worthy charities and non profits for art donations. The requests are usually for pieces for a silent auction, raffle, or door prize. Since I get so many, I cannot say yes to everyone.  (Honestly, I don't know another artist that isn't in the same boat.)  Whether you are planning on asking me or another artist you know for a donation, these are 10 tips to help you when asking for an art donation. (P.S.  Number 8 in this list goes a long way with me.)

1. Approach an artist or gallery you have a good relationship with. This could be that you are a regular customer or regularly interact via social media or live events. 

2. Approach someone that has strong feelings about the charity or non profit group you are raising funds for. For example, I feel very strongly about children's charities in my area.  I make it a point to regularly donate to them.

3. Know that artists and galleries get MANY requests for donations. This may even be a good way to lead into your request: "You must get lots of requests to donate your beautiful paintings. Our organization would be grateful if you would at least consider making a donation for our annual fundraiser."

4. Write your request to an actual person! Research the gallery and/or artist to find an actual contact person versus sending your request to "To Whom It May Concern". 

5. Share what the artist and/or gallery can expect to receive in return for their donation. Are you going to feature the art and/or the artist in a brochure or catalog about the event? Will the artist's work be shown with their name and photograph? Are you asking the artist or a gallery representative to make a personal appearance?

6. A little flattery goes a long way (but be sincere!) Get to know the gallery or artist and their art first before you ask for a donation. It will be much easier for you to talk about their art and why you find it a good fit for your charity event.

7. Consider asking if the artwork is available for purchase at the wholesale price (since you are asking on behalf of a charity). While artists and galleries may balk at giving up art outright, they may consider selling it to the charity at a discount. 

8. Don't forget to follow up with a handwritten thank you on a nice card or stationery. Not a postcard. Not an email. Not a "thank you" buried somewhere on your website. A thoughtful, handwritten thank you goes a long way in getting the artist or gallery to make a donation again. 

9. Know that some of the artists and galleries are going to say no (and remind yourself this is okay). It might be the artists doesn't have any inventory to spare or can't afford the donation. Regardless, thank him or her for their time and ask if it's okay for you to contact them in the future. 

10. Lastly, do not tell the artists what they can or can't do in terms of how this donation relates to their tax situation. Donating art is a tricky situation; recommend the artist or gallery consult their financial adviser for advice on this matter.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Las Vegas show wrap up

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The show is almost over, but I wanted to share with everyone that you will now be able to find more of my resin jewelry west of the Mississippi!  KMS Designs jewelry will now be in stores in Texas, California, Nevada and Utah just to name a few.  I am anxious to share the new locations with you and will do so when I'm back in the studio later this week!!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Resin jewelry booth at ACRE Las Vegas

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I'm blogging this to you today while I'm at the ACRE Las Vegas show.  The last 36 hours have had some good and not so good moments.  But I'm here now and things are going.

It started yesterday at 4 AM ET with an alarm clock telling me it was time to get the day started.  I REALLY needed about 6 more hours of sleep.  I had been burning the midnight oil getting the new resin and pewter jewelry line going, including being up late the night before.  A pot of coffee and kisses from my peeps to wish me well, and I left for the Orlando airport.  No, the sun was not up yet.

Other than the normal inconveniences of flying (body scans, removing half your clothing, having to give up that bottle of lotion I forgot was in my purse), that part went well.  Unfortunately, the lack of sleep and too much caffeine caught up with me.  By the time I landed in Vegas, nausea had taken up most of my thought processes and a migraine wasn't too far behind it.  Luckily, my friend Maggie was with me and helped tote the luggage from the airport to the hotel and then on to the convention center.

It was only 3 PM local time when we got started setting up the booth, but I was still on east coast time and seriously needed a nap. 

This is what the booth looked like when we started.  Another 10 foot by 5 foot space with a table and chair.

I had packed everything into three suitcases and one carry on bag.  I flew Southwest, so two bags are free.  My friend checked one of the others as hers.  After the "pain in the keister" factor of lugging around big, heavy bags, I would at least look into having my materials freighted out here ahead of time, especially if I'm doing the show by myself.  (You can have items sent here ahead of time and they are at your booth waiting for you.  No hernias - no headaches - but there's the cost of the freight - bags are free on Southwest)

I designed by new resin jewelry booth display back in February.  Here's my first opportunity to put it to work!

First thing I did was to put up the ivory colored sidewalls over the silvery ones.  (The cover of the table in the picture is the silver).  I also hung 4 pictures (one you can't see), and I hung the lights.

Next was the pink table cover and the green floor.

This was as far as I got on Friday afternoon.  I couldn't decide which was going to happen first:  my head exploding or regurgitating my breakfast.  I am absolutely embarrassed to say that I was in bed by 5 PM local time.  (probably against the law in a party town like Vegas).

The jewelry finally got put out on the table Saturday morning.  (Notice Maggie kneeling next to the table.)  For this show, I only brought scrabble tile and resin jewelry and my new line of resin and pewter jewelry.

I have 20 different themes of scrabble tile jewelry for display.

A closeup view of the new line of pewter and resin jewelry.  I'm happy with how this line has turned out.

My last thing to share with you is the cute little flower jewelry displays I got at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  I was in there to get table risers, and found this as a little bonus. 

I'll have more updates to share soon!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

New resin jewelry in pewter

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I want to share a preview of my new resin earrings and pendants with blog readers.  WOO HOO!  They will be listed for sale on my "new and improved" website coming soon!

Brief description:  earrings are 1/2 inch round or square and hang on sterling silver filled ear wires, earring "doubles" are 1/2 inch wide by 1 inch long and hang on sterling silver filled ear wires, pendants are 7/8 inches round/square and hang on a sterling silver plated snake chain.

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