As the title reflects, I feel I have been Chasing Rainbows to no avail. I needed someplace or thing to make me feel more grounded and accountable. Somewhere I can record my plans and efforts as I work towards meeting goals of increasing my Polymer Clay knowledge, skills, and abilities while working towards a healthier me, in mind, body, and soul. A place that reminds me that everything has the possibility to improve with effort (I might even catch part of one of those Rainbows, someday).

Oops, I've been a slacker!


Posted by Sue C | Posted on Sunday, January 31, 2010 | Posted in

Ummm, here it is Sunday, January 31, and the last post I wrote was on the 27th.  No excuse, I've just been a slacker.  I've been doing things around the house, but don't really think you want to see me cleaning the bathroom or folding our clothes, do you?  No, didn't think so. . .

One thing I did was graduate Snuffles from her little Ex-Pen area to the entire end of the "den", so she's in our computer area with us, loose, for the most part.  Along with her freedom and "advanced age", she is starting her training, with "crate training".  Since she will travel with us on vacations, she has to not "just" use the potty box whenever she wants to, she also needs to learn some control of those "functions".  So, at night, she has to be in her crate and if we leave the house, she has to be in her crate, but otherwise she's loose with us, now.

We spend most of the day (at least one of us does--the one of us who is at home during the day, LOL) in the den, as that's where my clay "studio" (isn't that a fine sounding title) and our computers are located.  She is also wearing a collar with her rabies tag and an ID charm with her name and phone number, and she doesn't much appreciate that jingling going on, LOL.  She is pretty much over her surgery now, has to get her stitches out next week, but is running around and jumping around normally.

Speaking of computers, (remember, when I was talking about Snuffles being loose in the computer area of our den???)  I also have to confess, I've become absolutely addicted to 3 Facebook games.  My favorite is Farmville (if you're a Farmville Farmer, look me up and become my neighbor, please).  I also play Zoo World and could use some more friends there, too (as well as a lot more gift animals, the limited variety, if possible, LOL).  My third game is Tiki Farm (but it's not demanding, because if you're busy and don't get your crops harvested they don't die on you).  You get a bonus if you DO manage to get them harvested as soon as they are ripe, but there is no "punishment".  It is on an island and there is a sandy beach to play/build on, as well as lots of tropical plants and trees, so if you want an easy, relaxing, non demanding game, come on over and join me, my daughter B, and my daughter-in-law M on Tiki Island, LOL.    

In addition to housework, I've also gotten my clay table all cleaned off and yesterday started my class on Sculpting the Fairy Child.  As expected, I had no trouble making the armature(s) (I'm doing 3 different sizes at once, I know, I'm an over achiever).

I've started the heads (which has always been my "bugaboo" where sculpting is concerned).  I can do the bodies, legs, arms, even the feet and hands fairly well.  But the face. . . After redoing a mermaid's face for about the 25th time, I actually got so frustrated I threw a tantrum and threw her head against the wall.  I was mortified I had done that, I'm a VERY controlled person.  I don't throw tantrums, I rarely show anybody but my husband how I truly feel about many things.   I hardly ever cry and almost never raise my voice (even when I had kids home. . . notice, I said ALMOST, so if our kids are reading this you can't say, yeah, "never???").  If I cry, you can be pretty sure whatever caused it is really overwhelming.  Oh, Mr. C. reminds me to say, I "leak" on occasion (silent tears dripping down my face) but that's usually from a sad song or extreme pride or missing our kids and grandkids--did I ever tell you we have 5 absolutely wonderful grandkids, being a Nana is fantastic, at least when they're around.  Our kids are both AirForce spouses, so they and the grands don't live near us and we usually only get to see them once a year.  We were fortunate to have 3 of them living with us when they were born and for at least the first year of their lives (and two of them were here with us for 3 years).  So, I miss them a lot.  But, I digress. . .

Anyway, back to the throwing of the poor mermaid's head.  I'll repeat, I was mortified and just sat there in shock for a few minutes before very quietly picking up all the pieces, carefully wrapping the mermaids body (which was perfect, in my opinion) up and putting her in a box.  I picked up all the pieces and decided I needed a time out and I have not even attempted to sculpt since then.  BUT, it's my overriding "thing" I want to learn and want to be able to do.  As you've probably noticed from my Mom and Sister's comments, in general crafty, cooking, sewing types of things come very easily to me.  Caning comes very easily to me.  So for me to find something I "can't do" (other than drawing and painting, which I won't even attempt, LOL) has been very lowering for me.  It's a real challenge, which makes me want to "master" it all the more, LOL.  (What's that saying about "Pride going before a fall" or something like that, LOL.  But the mermaid incident happened probably over 8 years ago and I've never attempted a sculpture since.  At least a sculpture of a "person" type thing.

I do Christi Friesen type sculpture and her methods are very freeing, since they are representational or "stylized" rather than realistic, I have a blast with them.

Here's an example of one of my pieces a la Christi Friesen.  She is such a fantastic person, teacher, artist, and writer.  She encourages people to use their creations any way  they please (even selling them) but asks to be given credit for the inspiration.

This is actually a hidden jewelry box, and I thought it was good enough to send it in to a contest at PolymerCafe and it not only got in, it was the first one listed and had a full page spread.  I felt pretty special, I can tell you.  So, why can I do this kind of stuff but can't make a "FACE" for heaven's sake.  We all  have faces, we look at them everyday, why can't I seem to sculpt one?

So, I've decided no more excuses, I AM going to learn how to sculpt.

So, back to my class.  I got the armatures done, got my clay all mixed (by hand, it isn't as likely to cause moonies--little placquing places in the clay that look like little moons and not something you want on a doll's face, LOL).

Today, I started the faces.  One is about an 1 1/4", the second is about 1", and the third is about 3/4".  So far,  they look just like the instructor's examples, except for the mouths :-(  I just can't seem to get the feel for how to "turn up" the top lip.  So, I decided to come write my blog and let them cool down again before I try the mouths again.  I've only had to redo the big one once and the little one once (one because of the mouth, the other because of the nose, she's supposed to be a fairy, and she had a huge honker, LOL).  They still have a long way to go, as they are just roughed out, at this point.  But so far I feel pretty positive.  Here are pictures of them.  They look kind of like aliens right now, and aren't nearly as smooth as the instructors, but I'm satisfied for my first try.  I'll submit them to Kori (the instructor) tomorrow and let her critique what I have so far.

 I also have my eyes ready, which I think is the next step, I'm trying not to look ahead as I don't want to get overwhelmed and discouraged.

Tomorrow is Mr. C's "weekend", so we'll be running half the day and so I probably won't get more done tomorrow, but I'll let you know how the teacher's critique comes out on Tuesday or Wednesday.

So, until then. . . Have a wonderful Monday.  Smiles, S

Busy but no Clay


Posted by Sue C | Posted on Wednesday, January 27, 2010 | Posted in

Hi, it's me again, no post yesterday, absolutely nothing came to mind for me to write about, other than taking the puppy and cat to the vet to be spayed and you already knew about that, LOL.

So, today has been a very busy day.  First I picked up the poor puppy and cat.  Cat doesn't seem bothered at all, but poor puppy, just lays in her little bed with her head down and her big eyes looking so sad and befuddled.  Then she falls asleep and has little puppy dreams, whimper, cry, whimper, cry, she's never done THAT before.  Well, I know how awful I felt after my hysterectomy, so I guess I have to understand, but I feel so sorry for her. How come they give people pain meds after surgery, but not pets???

So, what have I been so busy with today, you may ask (hoping for some clay and/or caning news)?  Alas and alack (is that how you spell that?) NO CLAY, again today.  Although the day isn't over yet and since I'm writing this early, maybe I can still fit some in (well, doubt it, since I didn't finish it until almost 6 pm).  BUT, now everything is done (except the exercise part that I am trying to do daily), so there is nothing on my plate to do tomorrow.  Hooray, Clay Table, here I come.

First, this morning I made these:

Homemade Egg Noodles from my Grandma Zook's recipe (sadly she's no longer with us to make them for me, she was the best noodle maker in the world).   She also made Homemade Angel Food Cake and "beat the egg whites on a plate", BY HAND (I make make it from scratch, but I use the mixer, LOL) and it is fantastic.

My Grandma was a fascinating woman.    She was widowed when my Mom was only 4 years old and never remarried.  She lived an interesting life, of which we only know bits and pieces.  She told stories of moving to FL with her husband during the depression and living in a tent because they couldn't find or afford anywhere else to live.  She told of a day her husband brought a big old fish home for dinner and plopped it into a pan and apparently she didn't know it hadn't been cleaned or anything yet, because next thing she knew it was flopping all over the place.

She eventually became the Secretary to the City Clerk of Bloomington, IL.  She ended up going to all the City meetings because her boss didn't take minutes, LOL, and when he resigned, she decided to run for the office of City Clerk.  This was a time when it was almost unheard of for a woman to be political, at all, let alone actually "run for an office".  She not only ran, she beat out 5 men for the position and then held the position for a total of 4 terms (16 years) before she retired.

She never learned to drive and she either walked, took the bus, or the men she worked for gave her rides home (after meetings when it was dark and the buses weren't running and her friends didn't want her to walk home alone in the dark).  She was so much fun and so loving.  It was really weird to go out with her, like downtown to go shopping, because it seemed like she knew EVERYBODY in town and would have to stop and talk to each one of them (perpetually campaigning, I guess).  She was rather straight laced, though, and my sister and I loved to tease her by talking about rather risque subjects (at least they were risque back then, especially from teenage girls).  We'd talk about things like pre-marital sex (neither of us was interested, we just liked to egg her on) and she'd get this absolutely shocked look on her face.  We'd say things like, "Well, Grandma, you guys used to do it, you'd just do it in the bushes."   She'd look horrified, start blushing, and say, "Oh, you girls!" (but she never denied it and we'd rib her mercilessly).

My favorite story of my Grandma was after she was retired, I don't remember how old she was, but she was probably in her late 70's.  My boyfriend (at the time) and I had gone out to dinner at a little Mom and Pop type Italian restaurant (but I'm talking REAL Italian and really good, even though the place looked like a little hole in the wall place way off the beaten path).  My Grandma came in with 3 of her cronies, they sat down and ordered their food and drink and I got the shock of my life.  My GRANDMA ordered a beer, and not just a beer, but actually drank it OUT OF THE BOTTLE.  You can bet I held that over her head for a long time, LOL.  My very upright, straight laced, past public servant, 70 something year old Grandma, drinking beer in public out of a bottle.

Oh, and speaking of her cronies reminds me, although she didn't drive, as she got much older, a couple of her friends also didn't drive and the one who did could barely see, so the passengers would tell her where to turn and where to go and what was there and she would drive that way.  It was unbelievable.  She was such a hoot.

 While my noodles were drying, I started cutting up veges and meat to make this:

Homemade Goulash from my Grandma Kitty's recipe (she's also sadly missing from my life).  She was a great cook of everything.  The funny thing, to me, is that when I was a kid, I didn't particularly care for this Goulash, but I really like it now.  Over the years I've tweaked it a bit, but I'm sure she did that also, as she was one of those women who cooked with a "pinch of this and a handful of that and a little of whatever".

I also have some wonderful memories of her, My Dad's Mom.  I probably got my ability, interest, and love of crafting and sewing from her.  She was an actual tailor for a long time and had her own button making business.  She tried just about every craft that came along, although I think her and my Grandpa's first love was rocks, minerals, and gemstones.  They went on rock hunting expeditions (and sometimes took us with them) and had all the equipment to cut, polish, slice, etc. the rocks they found.  They had huge specimens and small ones, common ones and rare ones.

This Grandma had no political aspirations, she was a wonderfully comfortable Grandma who would hold me on her lap and sing songs to me (songs I know and sing to this day, although sadly, many of the words have been lost through the years and they are old songs that you can't find in books anymore).  Shadrach, Meshack and Abendigo (not a clue how those names are properly spelled), Preacher Went Out A Huntin', Fiddle I Fee, K-K-K-Katie, The Moon Shines tonight on Little Redwing, the old Cowboy songs.

Unfortunately, she developed Alzheimer's and the last 10-15 years of her life were not pleasant ones, so I try to just remember the good times with her.

Anyway, while the Noodles were cooking and the start of  the Goulash was simmering away, I also made these:

Mmmm, Homemade Peanut Butter Cookies.  This recipe came from my very special Mommy (and I'm not sure where she got the recipe).  They are a very light, almost crisp peanut butter cookie and the dough tastes almost exactly like the inside of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.  I can never decide if I like the cookie or the dough better.

This also reminds me of something my daughter B recently wrote on her Facebook Wall.  She was in the process of making homemade cinnamon rolls (my recipe, this time, and they are out of this world good, if I do say so myself  ;-p)  So, the question was:  "How can you tell when the Castle (or Ziegler/Zeigler) women have been baking?"  heeheehee, I'll let you make a guess in the comments (to make a comment, click on the "conversation bubble at the top right of this post).  (B, you already know the answer, so you can't answer tonight!!!)

So, after all this yummy fun, I was left with this:

Which is all cleaned up, either in the dishwasher or hand washed, dried and put away.

AND, in spite of all this yummy cooking that was going on I still managed to get this done:

As well as remembering to do this:

BUT, while I was doing this I happened to glance out of the window and saw more of THIS:

Yep, more snow, and it's supposed to get down in the single digits cold again tonight. . . I HATE WINTER, LOLOL

So, it's been a very busy day, even though I didn't get any claying done.

While I was clearing out the dishwasher though, I remembered something I wanted to talk about yesterday, that IS clay related.

Every morning for the past couple of years I've had a Cranberry Juice cocktail made from Fresh Cranberry Juice Concentrate (2 oz Cranberry Juice Concentrate--no sweetener in 20 oz of water).  The Cranberry Juice Concentrate comes in these little 8 oz. glass bottles.  They are about 5 inches tall and not very big around and the top 1/4 looks kind of like cut beveled glass.   I've been blithely throwing these little bottles out for the past several years and yesterday, for some unknown reason, it struck me that these would make absolutely gorgeous bud vases with the lower straight sided part covered in clay.  Here's a picture, what do you think?   If I covered the "threaded top" and the straight part below the design part, wouldn't they make cute little vases?

So, "That's All Folks", at least for tonight.  Talk to you tomorrow.  Smiles, S

Another Snowy Day


Posted by Sue C | Posted on Monday, January 25, 2010 | Posted in

Well, here in Central IL, it's another snowy, windy, COLD Day.  Today was Mr. C's "Sunday", and we did our usual Monday errands and then came home and have tried to keep warm ever since.  The wind is just ferocious, though and seems to be seeping in through the walls or something.  The rest of the day was mostly devoted to taking care of animals, feeding, grooming, cleaning kitten pens and pans, clipping nails, etc.

Tomorrow my sweet Snuffles is going to the Vet to be spayed along with the only cat we are keeping, also to be spayed.  I gave the puppy a bath and groomed her all up for her vet visit tomorrow, but I'm not a groomer, and I'm afraid I really botched up her face, LOLOL

Here is a before picture of her cute little face:  (The dog is the one with the cute little face, just ignore the other person, LOL).

So, here are some pictures of her with her freshly trimmed "butchered" little face (no, I didn't cut her, although I got pretty close).  How on earth do the groomers keep them still long enough to trim them?  I think next time it will be to a groomer she will go.  Thank goodness puppy hair grows back quickly.

Fortunately, she doesn't seem to know or care that I butchered her grooming job and just goes on smiling, loving us, and playing her funny, silly puppy games.  She's not too happy though, to have had her food and water removed for the night (pre-surgery, no food or water).  

I really don't have too much more to say today, it'll be an early night for us, as Mr. C has to be up bright and early for another 12 hour work day tomorrow.  Except for taking the puppy and cat to the vet tomorrow morning, there's not much on my agenda (if you don't count laundry and dishes ;-p )  So, hopefully I can finally get those eye canes reduced.  See you then. . . SMILES



Posted by Sue C | Posted on Sunday, January 24, 2010 | Posted in

Hi, this is just a very short post, as not much went on today.

One thing I want to point out to my loyal friends and followers.  The comments section is not really gone from my blog, look at the top of the blog post, there is a little 'conversation bubble' there.  Click on that to make a comment.  My Blog guru (aka daughter, Becky) has been hard at work on my Blog and that is a little fun addition she found for it.  It never dawned on either of us that nobody would notice it or realize that is where you  need to click to make the comments now.  As comments are made the numbers show how many comments are made.  Now, I challenge you to test this out and be sure it works, by making a comment and then checking back to see if the number changes (and I ask you to make a comment, just so I can be sure it is actually working, lol).

Today is Mr. C's "Saturday" for this long week of 12 hour days (hooray, he gets two days off this week and there's only one week left of this "outage", so he'll go back to "normal" work hours--normal for where he works anyway, see one of the previous posts for details, LOL).  We decided to celebrate by driving clear to Springfield, about an hour and 15 minutes away, to go to our favorite restaurant, Golden Corral (OK, so I never claimed to be gourmets!!!)  We also did some errands:  getting a new BIG mailbox to finally replace the dinky one the State of IL replaced our old one with and some kitten food.  We almost bought some things we really didn't need at Walmart, but in the end put them all back, all because of a magazine article I read while I was in the hospital.

I'm not sure, but I think it was in either Good Housekeeping or Better Homes and Gardens (I was waiting to go get the second scan after the stress test and I was hungry, bored and a bit crabby by then).  Anyway, this article was about a family that decided to take a vow to stop spending.  I got the impression they were fairly well off and just bought whatever struck their fancy, whether it was new furniture or a new purse.  They had several daughters.  They decided they were spending way too much, way too frivolously (that's a hard word to write, but the spell checker says that's how it's spelled, so guess I'll leave it).  So they sat down and decided to do this together as a family.  They decided what items would be exempt, such as food, toilet paper, school supplies, mainly consumables and they wouldn't purchase ANYTHING else for an ENTIRE YEAR.  They learned to repurpose lots of things, such as one girl's tennies were getting a little too tight, and she wanted a new pair, but they weren't for school, just because she wanted them.  Mom remembered that a couple years ago she had purchased a pair of brightly striped tennies for herself but they were a little too small so she never wore them and just stuck them up in the attic, so she ran and got them and they fit the daughter perfectly and she was thrilled with the wild stripes.  Another daughter wanted to start a journal but didn't have any extra paper, but one of her sisters had purchased extra spiral notebooks for school a couple years before and there were some she had only used a couple pages of so she gave those to the one wanting to journal.  They learned to be very creative about gift giving and learned a very interesting lesson about frivolous and/or impulse buying.  They found they could do a lot more things as a family (outings to special places or special activities or meals out) as well as put away more than $500.00 per month that before they had just been frittering away.  After the year, they just continued it as a way of life and are lots happier with their simplified and scaled down spending.  So, today, we chose several things at Walmart, but then I asked, we have a larger size one of these, do we really want to get another one for just a week or two of use when we could use the larger one and just not fill it as full?  We picked up some DVDs we weren't sure we had and then I asked, you know, we have lots of DVDs we've never watched, do we really need/want to get some more (especially since one was one we weren't sure if we already had it or not ;-p )  I was going to get some new toothbrush heads for my Sonic Care toothbrush thing, but I don't really need them for another 3-6 months, so why did I need to get them NOW?  So, in the end we ended up putting everything back and walked out of Walmart without buying ANYTHING, which is definitely a first for us, LOL (which is why we call it Wallet-Mart).

Anyway, although we don't intend to go that extreme, it was an interesting one day insight into how much we spend mindlessly, just because we WANT it or MIGHT need it "someday" in the future.  I intend to continue trying to look at my spending this way and see if I can't help keep more money in the bank than in the store.  In this economy, every little bit helps.

Well, so much for a short post, sorry, sometimes my mind just runs away with itself (actually what you read here is the way my brain works nearly 24 hours a day, which is why I have a sleep disorder and Fibromyalgia, LOL, it just never shuts down).

So, to bring this to a close, the temps were all the way up to 41* today, the BIG mailbox is now installed, (for which I'm sure our Mailman will be grateful), and now I'm done with my blog post for the day and still have time for a movie tonight.  Hope everyone else had a good day.  Smiles

Another Fun Clay Play Day


Posted by Sue C | Posted on Saturday, January 23, 2010 | Posted in

First thing today, I want to show off the beautiful flowers Becky and family sent me while I was in the hospital.  When they finally got me up to my room, this is the first thing I saw.  It was a real pick-me-up, thank you, guys.

Today, we had another Clay Play Day.  The same people were there, my sister, Gail, our friend Reni, and our Mom.  We had another busy, long, but educational and fun day.  I keep telling them, I'm trying to teach you techniques, not just projects, although we do projects as part of our techniques.

Today, we made 'night light boxes'.  Cute little boxes, hinged together with tubes of clay and wire, with cut outs of translucent clay and cute lids.  Hmm, not a very good description, is it, how about I show you some pictures, instead:   Gail's is the blue one with the butterfly cut outs, Reni's is the yellow one with the hearts.  Mine was a kind of brick red with angel cut outs and the handle on the lid was three angels (holding hands) around the center with a single halo over their heads.  Since Mom doesn't "do clay", I gave that one to her and forgot to take a picture before she left (which was shortly after lunch).

First picture, in the light, second picture with them lit up.  I know it's a little dark, but the "light up" part wouldn't show up if it wasn't dark.

I have to share with you, the most hilarious part of this was watching Reni and Gail on their way to the car at the end of the day "using" their lights to light the way to the car and singing "This Little Light of Mine" at the top of their lungs.  It's a good thing we live in the middle of a cornfield, LOL

Then, we went and had a delicious lunch of Taco's, with all the trimmings, and fruit for dessert (along with some new recipe Chocolate Chip cookies Mom brought.  They have a box of instant vanilla pudding in them).  Everybody else said the cookies were delicious, but I didn't have any, as I don't do nuts in cookies, I'm allergic to pudding and (I know I'm weird, but) I don't like chocolate chips or chocolate chip cookies.  But I still appreciate Mom's contribution, Thanks, Mom.

After our delicious lunch, we made some translucent flower canes from Marie's tutorial on her blog, Art From My Heart.  We deliberately made different colors so we could use them for our final project for the day.  Gail made orange and blue, Reni made turquoise and violet, and I made fushia and purple, and then I added a yellow, since I think we need yellow for a full set of flowers, LOL.

Finally, we made some more puffy things, only this time they were flower charms made from Zuleykha's Tutorial, found on her blog:  Zuleykha's Polymer Clay.  These were quite fun and challenging to make, as the clay kept trying to pull away from the charm frames.  We succeeded, though:

So, another fun Clay Play Day, is past and gone (except I still have to cure the charms, LOL).  Gail, Reni, and Mom are all safely home, Mr. C just got home from work and has the next two days off, HOORAY!!!

So, with two last pictures of Gail and Reni working hard, I'll close for tonight and "talk to you" tomorrow.

Good Night!!! 

Catching up and my very first ever award!!!


Posted by Sue C | Posted on Friday, January 22, 2010 | Posted in

The first thing is a huge THANK YOU for the honor of being awarded
This Sunshine Award.  It's especially appreciated on a grey gloomy day when I don't feel so great, anyway.  It was a real lift to my heart when I saw it this morning.

The Sunshine Award
is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity
inspires others in the blog world.A big thankyou to "Almond Joy" of
I really enjoy her Frog Muse and her use and love of COLOR!
The rules for accepting this award:
Put the logo on your blog or within your post.
Pass the award onto 12 bloggers.
Link the nominees within your post.
Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

Hmmm, 12 bloggers, it will be hard to narrow it down, so many bloggers have had an impact with my life and work.  I also don't know how to put anybody else's pictures in here, so it will just be a list and link, in no particular order, LOL.

Marie of Art from my Heart for her generosity of spirit in sharing her love of life and polymer clay with us.

Carolyn & Dave of 2goodclaymates because it's so nice to read of people working together and their willingness to share their enjoyment of each other and their artistic cooperation.

Delores of followingtrolltracks for sharing the stories of Hob Knobby Hollow and the adventures and lives of her trolls.  

Jael of jaelsjewels as she is my friend and makes beautiful jewelry.

Becky of midnightlatherings and Moonsilver Soapworks for the great "Scrubby Hands Soap" she designed for me to get the clay residue off my hands while still keeping them soft and moisturized. She also happens to be my computer guru and wonderful daughter.  

Susan of both A Walk in the Park and Let's Lose Weight This Year for her art and humanity in addressing a difficult subject with humor and understanding for all our foibles.  

Sally of Kudzu's Whimzy for her wonderful Dragons and fun tutorials.

Moe of Moe Art Polymer Clay Creations for her sage advice, friendship and encouragement, as well as being a great polymer clay artist.

Jackie of The Pleasant Pheasant, again, for her friendship, wonderful advice and encouragement of EVERYBODY and their work on Polymer Clay Central.  

Zuleykha of Zuleykha's Polymer Clay for her beautiful work and sharing nature.

Vanessa of A Fanciful Twist for her wonderful witty sharing nature and her encouragement for all us us to remember to use our imaginations and appreciation of the world around us.  

Julie of Julie Eakes complex canes in polymer clay for her wonderful canes and sharing her experiences in creating those canes.

My thanks, also, to all, who read this blog, as your encouragement and comments and experiences you share with me make a big difference.  So, THANKS!



Posted by Sue C | Posted on Friday, January 22, 2010 | Posted in

Hi, just a quick note for now to explain my disappearance the past two days:  I spent the last two days in the hospital.  Here’s the whole story.  Tuesday, I was driving over to Champaign to go to Michael’s to get some Polymer Clay, because it’s on sale and I’m running low.  About half way over there, I suddenly got a very sharp pain right behind my left breast (like an electric shock).  The actual sharp pain only lasted maybe 10-15 seconds.  It took me a few seconds to figure out what was happening and it seems like it was “forever”, it took my breath away, it was so sharp and fast.  Then my heart started pounding so hard (not particularly fast, just HARD) I could actually feel the pulsing and beats (if I had a second hand I could have taken my pulse without even touching my wrist or throat).  Then the pain started across my chest and into my left shoulder and down my arm.  All this time I’m still driving along, wondering what in the world is going on and wondering if I should go to Carle Clinic when I got to Champaign.  By the time I got to Champaign, except for a tightness across my chest it was all over, so I went ahead and did my errands, went to Red Lobster for lunch and then went home.  Off and on the rest of the day and night, every once in awhile, it would feel like my heart hiccupped, the hard beating would start up again and I’d break out in a sweat, I checked my blood pressure and it was very high.  The next morning Verle urged me to go to the Dr. and get it checked out, or to at least call Gail and ask her if she thought I should get it checked out.  So, with both of them saying go get it checked out and the message at my Dr.’s office saying if you are having any kind of chest pain to go to the ER, rather than making an appt to see the Dr. I finally decided to go to the ER.  By this time all I have is the tightness across my chest and it feels bruised (like I’ve been tackled or something).  So, they did an EKG and blood work etc. and put a ‘Nitro Patch’ on me.  About an hour later, the nurse finally came back in and I told him I thought I was having an allergic reaction to the Nitro Patch.  He asked why and I told him my tongue was swollen and my tongue, and throat itched and burned and I was having trouble swallowing.  He lifted up the Nitro Patch and said, hmmm, it is pretty red under here, let’s take it off.  Verle said, later, well, you shouldn’t be too surprised, think about it, you know you’re allergic to Glycerin (tests years ago), what is a Nitro Patch?  Try nitro GLYCERIN, LOL.  The nurse finally came back in (about another hour later) and I asked for something to drink and were they going to do anything about the allergic reaction as I was having trouble swallowing.  He looked at the patch area again and decided to clean it off with some alcohol to get the residue off and said the Dr. said just wait and see if it got worse!!!   He sent somebody else back with a glass of water.  Around 1 pm I finally asked if I could possibly have something to eat as I hadn’t eaten in over 24 hours (since lunch the day before, since I didn’t know what they might need to do).  So he brought me a menu and let me order something to eat (off the cardiac menu, LOL).   The first blood tests came out ok, but the ‘hospitalist’ said she had talked to the cardiologist and they decided to do 3 enzyme tests 8 hours apart so they were admitting me.  So, finally (about 8 hours after I got there) they took me to a room, got me all re-wired (to a portable thing, so at least I could go to the bathroom etc.). 
Then, they did 2 glucose tests one around 4 pm and another at 10:30 PM and the final enzyme blood draw at 1:15 am and then another complete fasting blood profile (draw) around 5 am and then vitals around 6 am, so a second night of almost no sleep.  The 3 enzyme tests were okay so they decided we’d do the stress test, but wanted it fasting.  Guy came in and gave me a radioactive dye around 10:30, I went for the first ‘scan’ around 11:30, then did the stress test.  The Dr. doing the stress test told the students that normally they only take people to a certain heart rate but he decided to take me higher to see what happened!!!!  Then I sat for a half hour (I had to ask for something to drink and eat, but I was still marked in the system as fasting, so they wouldn’t give me anything to eat, although they did bring me something to drink).  They did the final scan and sent me back to my room.  Finally, around 4:30 the Dr. came in and said, although the Dr. doing the stress test was a bit concerned about my stress test,  the scans were fine and showed my heart was sound and working normally.  I asked him, then what happened, why did I have the pain and hard heart beats.  He said, sometimes, our bodies kind of misfire, for no apparent reason.  He thought my heart had just misfired and then tried to reestablish the correct rhythm with the hard heartbeats and spent the rest of the day and night trying to reinforce the correct rhythm (which is why it had the occasional hiccup feeling and increased heart beats) and that I did the right thing to come get it checked out.  Now we know that my heart is sound and working perfectly fine and to just ignore it if it happens again and is fairly similar to the first time.  I also asked him why the Dr. was concerned about my stress test, it was because I apparently reached my target heart rate much more quickly than he expected me to.  Well, number 1, I’m way overweight, number 2, I’m way out of condition, I haven’t done any exercise of any kind since I had my hysterectomy, and number 3, I had pushed myself to the limit during the test, I thought that was what you were supposed to do.  So, neither the Dr. nor I were worried about that.  I told the Dr. I know I need to start exercising and lose this excess weight.   He just looked at me and said, “You know what you need to do.” And that was that. 
Then, of course, we had to wait for the hospitalist to do the final discharge and all that and they let me go home around 5:30, with no change in medications, no high blood pressure meds, no cholesterol meds, no diabetes meds, they said all those things were fine.  So I was pretty pleased, but I was so tired, and even now, feel really exhausted.  So, I’m fine, just tired, fat, and out of condition, LOL. 

Once I catch up on all my computer stuff, I'll begin my eye cane reductions, although I suspect they won't get done until next week sometime.   We are having another Clay Play Day tomorrow, but I'm not sure what we're doing yet, so if I don't post again today, I'll have something to write about/show tomorrow.  

Have a great day.  Smiles and hugs to all. 

Lack of posts


Posted by Sue C | Posted on Thursday, January 21, 2010 | Posted in

Sorry for the lack of posts the past 2 days.  I had a "cardiac episode/scare" and  I just got home from the hospital about 10 minutes ago.  I'm exhausted, so I'm off to bed, I'll catch up tomorrow.

Tomorrow's Another Day!


Posted by Sue C | Posted on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | Posted in

I didn't post yesterday, just because we were busy in town (1/2 hour each way) etc. and didn't have anything worth blogging about.  Mr. C and I had a nice breakfast together (it was his 'Sunday'), I went to the Chiropractor, he got his H1N1 vaccination, finally and we did our weekly shopping.  Came home put it all away, played on Facebook (what an addiction lolololol) for awhile, played with the puppy and then went to bed.  4:55 am comes around pretty early.  The weather here in IL is lousy, just grey, cold, windy, "freezing fog" which is a term I have never heard until this year, but which makes roads, sidewalks, etc. VERY slick and it's black ice and thin, so you don't see it.  I hate winter, LOL, oops, I promised to not say that too often, didn't I?

Today was about the same, LOL.  I ran to the 'other' town (45 minutes one way in the other direction) to get Polymer Clay at Michael's (along with a bunch of rain checks, as they weren't well stocked) and to get another Makin's Green extruder to have as a back-up.  I sure like that little extruder for small things.  The weather was still like yesterday with the sky spitting little frozen hard flakes of ice/snow (not pretty snowflakes, this is tiny and hard, more like sleet, but white, LOL).  I treated myself to Red Lobster for Lunch (since Mr. C doesn't care for Red Lobster, I reserve it for lone lunches or occasionally I'm in town when my Mom and sister are available and we'll all go there for lunch.  That's always a nice luncheon).

A little sad news (if you don't like sad news and/or cats, just skip down past the pictures to the rest of the polymer clay post).  I don't know if you know or not, but Mr. C and I have been showing and raising Selkirk Rex Cats for the past year.  We recently decided this wasn't what we enjoy doing anymore, so we have been selling off all our kitties, except for the few we want to keep as pets, but we still had 2 pregnant queens when we made this decision, so we have two last litters to raise and find homes for (and wouldn't you know it, Selkirk Rex usually only have about 3 kittens in a litter--NO, not this time, just when we're trying to get "out of cats" one litter has 6 and the other has 7).  Selkirk Rex are interesting cats, as they have Curly Hair (honestly, curly, like a sheep--they're known as "the cat in sheep's clothing).

So they are interesting, but we have had cats all our lives and these are the strangest cats we've ever had.  They almost never can have kittens without help, so you have to be sure to be right on hand or you'll lose the litter.  The Mom's feed their kittens, but don't bother to wash them or clean them at all.  The kittens, fortunately, mature quickly and start eating (along with nursing) around 3 weeks.  But, they are always filthy, black all around their noses and mouths and just plain dirty.  It's been so cold I don't want to give them baths, so our last two litters are really awful looking.  You know how most other kinds of cats are forever cleaning themselves, licking and licking, and licking, nearly all the time?  We hardly ever see these cats cleaning themselves, let alone their kittens.  The gene that makes them curly is also a dominant gene, so roughly 25% of these kittens are homozygous and have 2 of the curly gene.  These are the weirdest kittens.  They look more like Sharpei puppies than kittens, their skin appears too large for their bodies, they have huge bat ears and are just plain ugly.  They also often lose their hair, because the extra curl makes the hair extra brittle, so you have these nearly naked kittens with these folds of skin and huge ears, wait a minute, I'll find a picture to show you.

Anyway, back to the sad part, for some reason, a small percentage of these kittens "fail to thrive".  Here at our house it's always been after they are weaned.  They seem perfectly happy and healthy until about 10-12 weeks and then they just plain quit growing (which is why we never let our kittens go until 14-16 weeks of age).  Vets can't find anything wrong with them (it's officially called Fading Kitten Syndrome or simply Failure to Thrive), they eat and drink and all that goes with that, they just start wasting away.  They don't seem to be in pain at all, they just seem cold and lose their vitality, and want to be held all the time.  We have our own theory, based on the history that has presented to us, and that is has always been after they were weaned, that there is some kind of enzyme deficiency that makes them unable to metabolize solid food, and the milk replacers just don't do the job.   Poor little things, there's nothing you can do for them, but watch them slowly die.  We lost one of those kittens today.  In a way it was a blessing, as the kitty is in a better place now, but it also makes me incredibly sad to have to watch these kittens slowly waste away and know we can't do anything to stop it.

So, I've been a bit down today and didn't get much accomplished.  I DID get the end caps on the eye canes and will start their reduction tomorrow.  The reason they needed 'end caps' is because since they are square, I can reduce them with what I call the "Jana Whack Method".  To learn more about this great reduction technique I refer you to Jana Roberts Benzon's Website to purchase her video:  Arabesque Caning (as well as to see some fabulous Polymer Clay Cane 'eye candy').  Jana is a fantastic Polymer Clay Artist and Jewelry Designer, a fantastic teacher and just all 'round wonderful, warm, witty, and fun person to be around.  I've had the good fortune to have taken a couple of workshops with her and learned so much.

I also wasted WAY too much time playing Facebook games, I have gotten slightly addicted to Farmville, Tiki Farm, and Zoo World.  Yes, I know, Facebook can be a dangerous place and I'm taking a chance,  but I'm having fun playing games with my kids long distance.  They've gotten me quite well set up in both my farms and my zoo, LOL.  Tomorrow I will be setting a timer to limit my time "playing".

I've been listening to Pandora Radio, today.  Mr. C set it up for me to play mostly late 60's to 70's music.  It's great because I don't have to change the discs (except that they started a Christmas song segment that I had to say Thumbs down on so it went back to the music I like).

Well, Mr. C is home and it's nearly bed time for us, as 4:55 am comes around pretty early.  I hope everyone still reading this has a wonderful night and that we remember 'tomorrow's another day' and plan for it to be better than today.  Smiles  

What a waste!!!


Posted by Sue C | Posted on Sunday, January 17, 2010 | Posted in

Hahahah, boy has today been a waste.  It's been one of those do nothing but play kind of days.  I worked at cleaning up the scraps, I mean leftovers from yesterday's Clay Play Day and cured the stuff we finished yesterday, but otherwise it's been a total waste of a day.  I've had fun though, I've been running back and forth between my clay table and my computer playing silly games.  So, I have no pictures to show, no earth shattering news to share, nada, just a lazy, playful day.  I hope you had such a relaxing day as I did :-)  Have a great night, smiles and hugs to all.

Hooray for Clay Playmates


Posted by Sue C | Posted on Saturday, January 16, 2010 | Posted in , , , ,

Hmmm, maybe that isn't a good title, sounds like we're doing Playboy or something.  One of us might fit the bill, but the other three are definitely out of the running, LMAO.

Today was the January date for having people come over and play with me polymer clay with me.  It's so much fun to sometimes have company to do clay work with.  This month it just happens that we can fit in two Clay Play Days, one today and one next Saturday.

It's obvious my sister reads my blog, as she brought me a bunch of Ultramarine Blue Premo.  I did find out though, that if you mix 1 pkg of purple with 2 pkgs of Cobalt Blue, you can come very close to Ultramarine Blue, in a pinch.

We aren't a very big group, although we'd love to have some other polymer clay artists join us.  Right now, it's just me, my sister, Gail,  her bestest friend, Reni (Reni's my friend, too, but I'm 4 years younger than them and they've been friends since they were kids and I was just the "little sister").  Our Mom also joins us, although she isn't really into the claying part.  She usually brings a knitting project along and just sits and knits and chats with us.

As you can see, my Mom also likes Snuffles, just a little bit.  She's getting bigger than we expected her to, I mean Snuffles, not my MOM, but she's still within the size range we wanted.  

Today for lunch, I fixed lasagna, as I mentioned yesterday.  I was pleased to find those "cook in the oven" lasagna noodles really DO work.  It was really good.   We had jello with fruit for dessert.

Our Clay Play Days usually take the form of classes with me as the instructor.  Sometimes we try a technique out of a book or a magazine or off the internet.  Since Valentine's Day will be coming up soon, we did hearts today.  We used Iris Mishly's free tutorial for a  Cookie Cutter Square Heart Cane .  Thanks, Iris, you write a great tutorial.

We then went on to make some pattern sheets with some of my canes and made some puffy hearts in the same way we have always made 'pillow beads'.  The first time we made them we made square pillow beads, but then we challenged each other and ourselves to make other shapes, so we've made butterfly pillow beads, round pillow beads, star shaped pillow beads (which are very hard to close by the way).  The only difference this time was that we borrowed a finishing technique (again from Iris Mishly) to put a striped border around our pillow bead seams.

The top ones are my sister's, the middle ones are mine, and the bottom ones are Reni's.  We had a blast, lots of chatter and trading ideas and colors etc.  I was pleased with my pattern sheet and my hearts, but didn't really like the colors I chose for the seam around my hearts.  I really liked both Gail's and Reni's colors.  Something for me to work on for the future.

As we were cleaning up, Reni was rolling some of her leftover striped seam clay into little rolled up beads, which struck me as a really good idea, but I though of a way to take it one step further.  I used all my scrap from today and extruded tube beads from my Makin's trusty green Extruder and then wrapped my left over striped sheet around it to make beads.  I then cut them into about 8mm tube beads.  Half of them I did the stripes around the bead, and the other half have the stripes going lengthwise along the bead.  It sure beat turning that pretty sheet of stripes into a muted sheet of who knows what color, LOL, and now I have beads to go along with my hearts.

So, here's what I have to show for a day full of  fun . . .

and a close up of my hearts with some of my older canes on them:

I'm almost completely out of that butterfly cane, guess I'd better get busy making some more of them, as I really like butterfly canes.

Tomorrow I have to get some leaf canes done for our eBay listings.  Then I have to get busy reducing those eye canes I started earlier in the week.  My sculpting class starts January 29, and I want to have everything else off my work space by then so I can concentrate all my energy on my Fairy Child (remember, sculpting is VERY difficult for me, wish me good sculpting vibes, please).  So, until next time, I'm off to bed.  Smiles!

Ready for Clay Play Day


Posted by Sue C | Posted on Friday, January 15, 2010 | Posted in

Good evening, first of all, I have to satisfy a reader about my dinky mailbox problem, so I went out today and walked out to my mailbox (the snow, by the way, would have been perfect for making a snowman, but I was a woman on a mission).  So, here's how far it is to my mailbox from my house:

Wouldn't you know it, as soon as I stepped outside the door, the mailman pulled up with our mail, because, you guessed it, we had a box as well as a roll of bubble wrap and there was no way it was going in that itty bitty white mailbox.  This second picture is of our mailman pulling out of our driveway after giving me the mail.

This third picture is from right across the highway from my driveway entrance to the mailbox (see, you can't even see the itty bitty mailbox. 

Finally, this picture shows the itty bitty mailbox with our poor uprooted mailbox just laying there in the ditch.  

And one last picture of our old mailbox propped up beside the itty bitty white mailbox, after which I dragged the old one up to the house since I was out there playing with it anyway.  It was a relatively nice day today.  It doesn't look like such a big size difference in the picture, but believe me, it is a huge difference.

So, what's on my clay desk today, besides the mess from yesterday?  Well, as I picked through the left-overs I found several extruded lengths I was able to piece together to make 3 more eye cane sets.  I'm not sure how much like an eye color they will be, but they'll be interesting and who says what colors Fairy eyes can be, anyway.  

Then I got busy sorting colors and sheeting out the rest of the leftovers.  

Yeah, I know, I'm rather 'anal' about things like my leftovers.  I can't just throw them in a bag or drawer or bin or anything, I have to have them sheeted out ready to be used.  I've even been known to drive people and instructors nuts as I patiently pick apart cane ends to separate the colors.  Oh well, it makes me happy and doesn't harm anybody else, so guess I'll keep on doing it.  

When I checked the blogs I follow in the morning, I got a great idea from my friend Jackie, at her blog  The Pleasant Pheasant to use a portable DVD player to watch my polymer clay videos right at my clay table.  Thanks, Jackie, what a great idea.  (AND, I just called Mr. C at work and told him about Jackie's post and mentioned I'd use my Polymer Clay DVDs a lot more if I had something like that and he said, go look at Amazon and see what you can find and we'll discuss it when I get home tonight, hee, hee, that means I get to get one---YES!!!).
So, back to my pasta machine and my sheeting obsession. . .
Then I was checking blogs during 'my lunch break', yes, I know I work at home, I'm a Polymer Clay Artist, but if I don't schedule my days, I'll just fritter them away either on this 'puter, or reading, or just plain playing with the puppy. If I didn't schedule myself, I wouldn't get any housework done, either and then we wouldn't have any clothes to wear, LOL--I was going to be a little more crass than that, but decided it wouldn't really be my style.  Anyway, I digress, so on my lunch break, I read another of my favorite blogs Let's Lose Weight This Year (although just like me, it's been more than a year since I started reading this blog and not much weight has been lost by either of us), but, that's beside the point.  In today's post, she was talking about her brother loving Bill Cosby when he was a kid and being able to recite parts of them.  It just really hit home to me, because I had just been sitting there, mindlessly sheeting the left-overs from the eye cane sets and it came to me that lots of people post "what I'm listening to" on their blogs, and I just don't fit in at all.  I'm almost embarrassed to admit what I listen to, but it's stuff I was raised with and to this day it's still my favorite mindless listening.  The other day something was said on Facebook, by my daughter B, about loving music and being a music/drama geek in high school and I wrote back, "All right, what am I listening to right now?"  Darned if the kid didn't hit half of it right on the head (and the rest she guessed were already queued up for the next day), LMAO.  I'm talking about records (see I already dated myself, LOL) I mean cds like Peter Paul and Mary, The Smother's Brothers, Alan Sherman, Ray Stevens, and The Irish Rovers (who are fantastic in person, too, by the way).   The music I listen to is older than "the oldies", LOL.   John Denver is high on my list of favorites, and any and all of the older musicals, Camelot, Brigadoon, Sound of Music, etc.  I also love the old Cowboy songs, many of which my Grandma used to sing to me.  I  occasionally do country, but don't have a clue who any of the modern musicians are.  I guess since they bring me pleasure and contentment, nobody else has to listen to them (except for poor Mr. C, who, although he doesn't mind my choice of music does object to hearing the same ones over and over again for several days). 

Okay, lunch break over, back to sheeting, and finally, I have it done:  Isn't that a pretty rainbow of colors ready to be reused?  There was only one washed out one this time (the green ones), the others are ready to go.  I'll eventually work some fluorescent green or fluorescent yellow into it to brighten it up.

So, this is what I have to show for the past weeks work.  I'm very pleased, a total of 15 different combinations of colors for eventual transformation into Eye canes.

Next, I had to get my clay shelves restocked from my reserves (I sure hope Michael's has another clay sale soon or I'll be having to place an order with Munro's, my reserves are nearly gone.)  Does anybody know if you can create Ultramarine Blue from Cobalt Blue?  I'm completely out of Ultramarine Blue.  So, clay shelves are now as restocked as I can make them. 

 Now it's time to get the rest of the work stations ready for Clay Play Day, hooray, I really enjoy our Clay Play Days, wish more people could/would join us.

I've even had time to get the spaghetti sauce ready for the lasagna for tomorrow. I'm trying something new.  They now make a lasagna noodle you don't have to precook, I'm going to try it, I'll let you know how it works out.  I make my lasagna weird (like most things, LOLOL). I don't happen to like cottage or ricotta cheese, so I use entirely mozzarella cheese in my lasagna.  So it's really more like 'baked spaghetti', but once again, heheheh, it makes me happy and nobody else has ever complained.  I had a foretaste, as I had actual spaghetti for my dinner tonight, since I had already cooked the sauce and made plenty (remember, I have trouble only cooking for one or two, .  I really haven't taken to this "empty nest" thing very well, in many ways.  

So, guess I'd better get going, and let you out of this madhouse, too.  Thanks for visiting, 'see' you tomorrow.