Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spring Has Sprung...

...OK, I lied. This has been the most depressing winter and (if you can call it that), Spring! Between the tornadoes, floods, torrential rains, name it...I've just about had enough. Am I whining? You bet I am!

Twelve tornadoes hit Wisconsin on April 10th. The worst of them hit the town of Merrill. My heart goes out to anyone there effected - and I'm sure that's just about everyone.

The second worst tornado hit an area where we have two homes. (One we have been desperately trying to sell.) They're in two different towns. But what did the tornado do? It started at one house, and then meandered its way down the creek to our other home that's for sale and did the most damage there. By the way, did you know that when a tornado hits your property, your homeowners policy only covers the structures? That means that when you live in the woods, every tree that's taken out and lying on the ground because of the tornado, is your problem. Sure, the trees that have landed on or in your house are covered for removal, but that just means they pay for the tree to be picked up off of the house and then dropped on the ground. Once it hits the ground, it's your responsibility again! Sigh.

I admit it, we were very lucky. Most of our damage was in the woods and our beautiful trees (not covered, of course), but our homes are standing with only one having minor damage - which my husband has decided to fix himself so he can use the money to deal with the trees - and so it goes. But I have to say, when you live in a wooded area, you would almost rather lose the house than the forest. It will be 30 years before that area looks even close to what it once was. Maybe it's just my age - I don't know.

OK, enough of that! In my reluctant attempt to try and think Spring, I've come up with some springtime colors for my SISSY Secret mini scarves.

These are all "boutique" yarns. Some are soft, some are lightweight, some provide a little warmth on the back of the neck for those all-too-soon air-conditioned places we work at or go to, and some are just fun.

For those who don't know the SISSY story yet, "SISSY" stands for Sensory and Immune System Sensory Yarns and they include yarns from all over the world, and of every origin. The original SISSY concept was to make the SISSY Smart Start Tummy Time Play Blanket for use on the floor for your newborn. Since a baby develops its immune system between birth and seven years of age, I thought it would be beneficial to use such a blanket to allow your baby to spend a few minutes everyday on the blanket to stimulate both his immune system and his sensory skills. With bright colors, a variety of sensory stimulation from anywhere from plain yarn to the most soft and heavenly feeling, it will be interesting to see what each child is attracted to the most.  Yes, you lay it on the floor, you allow the other kids and even the cat or the dog to lay on it. And for gosh sakes, don't even think  about washing it - why you would remove the very things we'd like the babies to be exposed to! As a Grandmother who has seen a rise in childhood Ashma and allergies, I thought this might be my way of helping out. A little. (Not recommended for children who have already shown a sensitivity to allergens.)

There's a whole line of SISSY products on my Internet Boutique "Poladora". The above scarves are something I came up with because I'm always cold and I hate air-conditioning in the summer. These little SISSY Secrets are designed to keep the back of your neck warm (which makes a huge difference - you wouldn't believe it), while making a fashion statement. The "secret" part is that people think you're being fashionable, while you're actually trying to keep warm and comfortable. Hang them around your neck and let them just hang down, tie them in a bow in front, throw one side over your shoulder - there are numerous ways to make your own personal statement. Poladora currently has a wide assortment of SISSY Secret Scarves available in every color and every size. These new ones for Spring need to be finished - such as adding their fringe, etc. - and then they too will be in the Boutique. I hope you like them.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Plan B...

For size perspective, glass bead bottle is smallest one. what you do when Plan A falls apart. We went up north for a couple of days and as usual, I dragged along what I thought would be just enough stuff to work on a project for my boutique. Well, I had everything I needed to start work on that vintage/antique watch part(s) that I blogged about earlier - except one. Well, more than one actually...the box that holds all of my hand tools for making jewelry!

Sooooo, I picked up one of those projects in my stash that I started long ago but never finished. You know the kind - the one that started out so fun but ended up to be so tedious. You know, it's like taking too much stuffing at Thanksgiving dinner. You can't wait to dig into it but after a little work on it, you get that overwhelming feeling of "I've had enough!". But there it sits, staring back at you on your plate. And what the first thing that comes to mind? (Besides the starving children in China.) It is "what a waste of good food" - in this case, expensive beads and a lot of labor!

"Twislers" Loops and Sticks Beaded Bracelet (unfinished)
So Plan B it was. And the funny thing? After not having stuffing for a while, you like it again. So I'm enjoying Plan B once again...for a little while, that it - just until I get full again.

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Expect the Unexpected"...

"Minon", a Champion Mille Fleur Cockerel
In the spirit of my tag line for Poladora "expect the unexpected", I thought I'd share an article I just wrote for the Poultry Press, a newspaper for poultry Fanciers (of which I am one). I am also a poultry health expert and receive emails from around the globe looking for help with chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, and sometimes pet birds. And, sometimes I get calls from local Vets to help them resolve issues their clients are having with their poultry or pet birds... So, for my poultry friends (and those who just might be curious about the growing trend of backyard chickens), here ya go:

Back to Basics
By KJ Theodore

After nearly fifteen years of answering poultry health questions, I’ve realized one thing. Having healthy chickens, turkeys, or ducks/geese – whatever – and preventing more work and heartache, really boils down to getting back to basics.

I’ve considered what I could write about for the Poultry Press since I’ve been away for so long, and I decided that instead of getting technical on a single subject, I’d write an article with a more broad appeal. You see, after all of these years, and even without writing for the Press, I continue to get daily poultry health emails. So, I decided to take a look at the broad overview of the subjects that I have been answering questions for, which lead me to the conclusion that the vast majority of issues could really be handled by simply applying some basics to your operation.

For example, do you use a medicated feed to help your birds build a resistance to Coccidiosis? (Medicated feed does not prevent Cocci, but it will allow for a weaker infection to occur that the bird can build resistance from.) There’s an article on my website about Cocci, and it explains everything you need to know to prevent this heartbreaking and deadly infection.

Do you have a vaccination program for Mareks? Mareks and Cocci combined account for more deaths among poultry than everything else combined. So if you prevent both of these illnesses, you’re way ahead of the game in keeping your beautiful show birds (and pets), alive and well. There’s also (more than one), articles on Mareks and even how to vaccinate for it on my website.

Are your facilities predator-proof? (That includes rats and mice.) Besides causing instant death and destruction, some vermin simply live in among the birds and carry disease from one to the other. (In a previous article of long ago, I even told you about a bold little deer mouse that I caught keeping warm under one of my banty’s wings – sticking its head out and looking at me as if to say “hey, it’s cold out there!”. Of course my little hen was just as proud as could be keeping the little stinker warm!)

Rodents of any kind in the coop can cause terrible harm – even if it’s not a gruesome mess with bodies everywhere. They’re the silent killers of our birds because we usually don’t notice them. They come out in the dark and leave a trail of urine where ever they go – not to mention the little brown gifts they leave in the drinking water that spread disease. They also carry their own vermin that are more than happy to change homes from the rodent to the birds if given a chance. Yes, you can read about this subject on my website as well.

Is your water clean and fresh every day? If you have an automated watering system (don’t we wish), do you run something through the lines to keep down the build up of slime? Do you provide clean bath water for your ducks? I like to use a little Oxine in my water and equipment to keep the water clean and free from disease that can pass from one bird to another. There are numerous articles on my site that pertain to the use of Oxine – too many to list here.

Do you have a biosecurity program? Even if it’s a loose one – anything is better than nothing. Setting up a two week quarantine location for incoming birds is a great way to start. More people have health issues with their birds when they bring in new birds, than at any other time. Keeping a “closed” flock is also good practice, but not everyone can do that. Also, keeping a closed flock is not as effective if you’re exposing your birds to other people’s birds through showing.

Do you check weekly or have a treatment program for the prevention of mites? I’ve seen a simple case of mites bring down an otherwise healthy bird in three days if the infestation is great. Sometimes mites can be so small that you don’t even notice them – they could simply appear as dirt around the vent. Look closely – if the dirt moves, it ain’t dirt! And, of course, there’s an article about mites on my site as well.

Other articles that may be of interest to you if you’d like to practice some more simple tricks to keep your birds happy and healthy are ones on keeping your birds cool in the heat, warm in the winter, worming, and the use of probiotics. These subjects, and many more can be found on my website at ("Shagbark Bantams"). Look forward to an all new look with many more resources for Fanciers sometime this summer. In the meantime, get caught up on some of my articles before I continue the education through new articles coming to the Poultry Press soon.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It's Just a Matter of Time...

 ... before I figure out what to do with this.

I was taking apart a vintage watch for the parts to make some steampunk jewelry (I use the real stuff - not store bought parts), and ended up with this base. Normally, I would have set this aside as the resulting waste of my little project, but the more I looked at it, the more I liked it. Why, you ask? Oh, I don't know - there's something about it. Perhaps the different colors between the base of brass versus the inside circles of the nickle plating. Or maybe it's all of the circles that were created for an active part of this watch's history of keeping time. Or perhaps it's the three little "stars" I see as places that I could attach wire...

There's just something about this "junk" that intrigues me. Someday it will end up in my Internet Boutique Poladora.

Stay tuned to see what I do with it!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Studio Blow Up...

...Ugh! Why is it that as soon as you get everything organized the way you want it, BAM, a project takes hold and the studio goes cablooy (is that a word)??

This is what happens when you try to work out of two places at once - especially if they're in two different states! Fabrics and sewing machines in one, jewelry studio in the other, oh, and lampwork shop is here...but I can't use it because it's too cold!

Basically, these are just a couple pictures of things that I need to get moved up north and are in temporary position (my sewing machine - one of them - is actually sitting on the dining room table).

I can't wait to get in just one place - but it will have to wait until the end of summer. In the meantime, expect more whining...or is that wine - ing?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Attracted to the Flame - Part VII

OK, not the most glamorous shot for a blog - but hey - it's reality...

I know, I know, I'm late on getting this one posted after promising it a week ago. But as they say, better late than never. I don't know about you, but this winter has just sucked the very life out of me! I'm not very inspired at all. And the motivation level is very low. SUNSHINE - WHERE ART THOU??

OK, enough of my whining... I'd like to talk a little bit about my torch and the fuel for my lampwork setup. First, it's not a "torch" (although everyone refers to it as one); what I use is actually a "burner". I refer to it as a torch because that is the universal word for something that uses fuel that has a flame coming out of it. (If I said "burner", most people would think I was talking about a stove.) My burner is called a Minor Burner, and it uses a mixture of both oxygen and liquid propane ("LP").

When you first start out, most people use something called a Hot Head that uses something called "MAPP" gas, and there is just one tank and no mixing. It's absolutely great to start out on. But its limitations grow old on someone like me who just has to continue to spread her wings and fly...

To create more, add more fine detail, and keep your clear glass more clear (not sooty or cloudy), you need to use a hotter flame and a cleaner one. That usually requires adding oxygen. Using pressurized gases is hazardous, so my shop is in a separate building and not in my house. There's a line of oxygen and a line of LP that runs to the burner. I control the line pressure from the tanks with regulators (pictured). (I also control the amount of oxygen I want to mix in with my LP at the burner head in order to do different types of work.) Basically, from the tanks of oxygen and LP, I need a line pressure mix of roughly 5 to 1 oxygen to LP.

Once the two fuels do reach the head of the burner, I need to mix them by adjusting my fuel knobs to create three different types of flames (and a zillion variations of each of these from one type to the other): reducing, neutral, or oxidizing. The more oxygen you use, the closer to oxydizing you get - the more LP you use, the more reducing your flame becomes. Most work is done in a neutral flame. Confused yet?

I can make it simple...most work in neutral, clean and clear work in oxydizing, special effects in reducing. No, it's not that simple - but for the sake of your sanity, and my lack of writing skills, let's leave it at that.

Visit my Boutique Poladora, to see some of my work on my "burner"...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What a Life...

Do you think this dog is spoiled, or what? This is our mini-dox "Teddy".

Coming this week - continuation of my "Attracked to the Flame" series!

Also, I'll be forcing myself to work on "Verna" for my Internet Boutique Poladora!!

Stayed tuned - and of course, expect the unexpected!