You know, it’s really boring to put together a blog post without any pictures. And not enough stuff has been happening to be photographed or very interesting. Until now! I have a contract on the house in Roanoke, after only one month on the market, for a decent price. With the help of some very good friends, I made the final push to stage the house and hire a realtor in April. Now I have to hire movers and get moving a bit faster on addition plans for the Seneca house.

My realtor, Jackie Boyd, hires a professional photographer for her home listings and posts to a number of online realty sites. Here’s lots of pictures from Zillow. Since it is under contract, it is not showing in the regular for sale search, but can be seen here. PICTURES IN LINK!

I plan to attach a slightly larger dome to about double the space. I do not plan to have any loft storage, as it is too difficult for me to climb a ladder. I am looking at a lot of safety issues for ageing in place. I also hope to put in a few luxury items, like a whirlpool tub with a separate shower. The furniture in Roanoke will all be moved here. I already have a laundry room and kitchen, so less expense there.

It’s fun to plan and search for the products I want, but I am honestly not looking forward to the construction period, right outside my door. There’s nowhere to move, and I feel like apologizing to my cats when I think of the noise and people they will have inflicted on them. They’ll hide under the bed and sleep the days away. But it’ll be over in a few months and a great new space will be ours. I expect I’ll be posting more regularly when things are active.

Catching up on the Blog

I know it has been quite a while since my last posting – little happening for a while and then really busy.

Earlier this year, I decided to use the rest of this year’s 401k allowance and pay off my Roanoke mortgage. It is so nice to be down to one mortgage.

I have relaxed about getting things completed on my Roanoke house, giving me more time to enjoy it and visit friends and places I like around town. Major cleaning is done, except windows, and scrubbing the basement floor. Maybe I can even improve the front landscape, since I have a neighbor minding the it and can keep it watered. The market is still slow, but gradually improving. I will give it a little longer to see where it is this fall.

There had been a tiny leak in my water line in Seneca. It kept getting worse, by about a 1000 gallons more each month. After many trips, much digging, and additions of shut-off valves to identify the problem section, Doug finally found a small lengthwise split in a pipe. As the water pressure built up, it would open and let out a drip, relieving pressure. I also had another round of pipe breaking at joints, and the solution, which seems to be working, is a pressure reduction valve. I miss the incredible water pressure, but I also hated being without water for a few days with every break.

Chain Maille:
No luck in my work being chosen for the magazine, but I’ll submit for future issues.

table view 1

eyeglass leashes, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets

AG table3

other rack, same items











I’m a member of Mensa, and the AG (annual gathering) was held in Louisville, KY this year. I attended and even had a table in the Marketplace for the Friday and Saturday that it was open. This is a long-standing tradition to allow members who create things, to display and sell their wares. It is generally a good venue with lots of sales, but you also have to decide not to attend programs, which are generally good. I was happy with the amount I sold, more than 10% of my inventory, and I even got a couple of commissions to send out later.

I had realized there were quite a few jewelry artists, so I started looking for items I could make that were different, I did well with bookmarks, eyeglass leashes, and keychains; not quite so with battery operated candles. I now have a few more ideas for future items, providing I find certain supplies. I was happy with what I used as a display, but am now thinking of improvements, of course. My mother was always looking for a better way to do things, and I learned from her.

AG table2

table view with keychains, bookmarks, and candles

My next commission is for a friend attending her niece’s steampunk wedding this fall. I will make her a pair of handflowers, including some steampunk elements, like small gears. As info, a handflower is a bracelet attached to a decorative element on the back of the hand, ending in a loop around a finger to hold it. Lots of examples that people have done, and I have designed a couple myself. These need to follow a close measurement for each person, so probably will always be commissioned pieces.

lavender handflower

lavender handflower – top goes around finger, bottom around wrist

I am still not too excited about setting up a table at various markets in the area. Maybe Sharon and I can come up with a joint venture for sales. I think my introverted nature makes me reluctant to do sales and meet strangers, I can, but have to force myself.

I got a Square reader for credit card sales and loved it. This is a well designed app, easy for someone, who is minding the booth while you have lunch, to complete a sale. Of course there is a small fee, but no more than Etsy charges. I am starting to re-think my online sites, may go entirely to my website and leave the Etsy store. First, I need to catch up with taking and posting pictures online. I got way behind while trying to build inventory for the Marketplace. Then I need to study making it a secure site.

I finally tried using Everbright to seal my cleaned copper pieces and prevent darkening as they are worn. It seems to do a good job, as even Sharon has not turned the copper earrings I tested for her. Her chemistry reacts fast, mine does not. Of course, now I have requests for non-treated raw copper for bracelets. I can do either.

Photo Contest and Jewelry Submissions

Well, now to wait and see if my jewelry catches the eyes of a magazine staff. There may be others that are a lot better, and I may not be a good enough photographer to properly highlight my work, but I have tried. There is a twice-yearly publication (Wirework) that Bead and Button magazine group publishes. They called for contributions, photos of final work and work-in-progress. If they select a piece for the magazine, the piece will be sent to them. The decisions and notifications will occur this month of March.

my earrings entry

my earrings entry

I sent pictures of a pair of earrings that I really like, using anodized aluminum rings and faceted beads. I like both the blue and the bronze that I have made, but decided the bronze was my favorite. I also made a necklace similar to one I wear a lot, a rainbow of colors with a dark neutral, black for my original and for the entry, I used bronze. I wanted to vary the ring by using a square wire ring for more sparkle, and did not have black. I also have developed a tutorial of an easier (for me) way to construct the weave. I am so pleased with the result, it has such a rich look.

my necklace entry

my necklace entry

Now I wait and hope. It would be a great visibility for my work ( ), and would keep my interest in ring work.

I hope my brother’s luck/skill continues on with me. He had a photo selected in a contest, and it will be featured Monday, March 9 on the cover of the website. He has taken some wonderful vacation pictures, and this is one from a photo safari in Botswana. He loves travel and has been to some beautiful places. Check it out If it is not March 9, you can find it by clicking on Top 250, then going to the 10th page (it is alphabetic), and looking for Dale Woods.

The month of February has been miserable weather. Although it was much colder north of SC, I am used to this and do not care for single digit temps. We had one bad ice storm and dodged a heavy snowfall during this time, too. A prediction of up to 8 inches ended being nearly an inch as the front held warmer temps in our area. I have not been able to get back to Roanoke, as the weather there has been quite bad. I want to make sure the driveway has melted and I can get to my house. The snow shovel is there in the garage, not much help when I’m not. I hope to go in another week or two. I am determined to have the place show-ready with one more visit. It is time to end physical ties to Roanoke and start enlarging this house.

I’m Back to Work

This has been a rather busy time for me. I have finally gotten things all pulled together to set up a shop to sell my chain maille jewelry. I have taken some webinars, read books, practiced photography – a whole new area but very important to have decent pictures for potential customers. Jewelry is kind of a specialty. I will always be learning and taking lots of shots.

I couldn’t even order business cards until I decided on a name, set up a store and a website, everything I might want printed. This involved culling and uploading pictures, taking care of descriptions, including measurements of pieces. The website is actually a blog site, and I adapted it to how I wanted the site to flow – or nearly how I wanted it. I am still going to work on it.

As I was getting near to setting up a shop on Etsy, my computer died, the motherboard – so I had to buy a new computer and transfer old data – lots of pictures – and figure out how to use Win 8.1 operating system. I rather like it, but there was a surprising learning curve. (Another delay) It seems Microsoft is aiming to keep the pc, tablet, and smart phones more standard. The PC did not come loaded with as much as it used to be, but it has easy access to online stores to download apps (many free). I read recently that 81% of the country now has online access, so we are now relying on it to download software and upload and store data in the Cloud. Once I realized there was still the desktop, but the start bar had changed (improved, in my opinion) to a full-page, with better links to other programs and websites, I have enjoyed using it.

Little by little, I am getting more accomplished, but less actual jewelry making. I will be happy to get back to that soon. I am pleased with the business cards. I decided to design my own, with a background I photographed and faded to allow print to be readable. Since all my locations are nearly the same name, it is a little redundant, but it does get my name across.

business card

So, this is it, my shop is open. As it shows on the cards:
my Etsy store is
my website is
I am keeping pictures of all of my inventory on the website, and since it is set up like a blog, the newest entries will show up first. I am putting more items in the Etsy shop, but it takes a while to fill out the form, so it will be gradual. I would appreciate anyone spreading the word, and I will do custom pieces as my material inventory and knowledge allow.

Visits and generally busy

I’ve been neglecting my blog, but I have been busy – as all retirees seem to be. I was back to Roanoke to work on the house and see friends. I learned just before I left that I’d be there for another retirement lunch, so I got to see a lot of old friends then. I saw other friends at various times while I was there. I did finish clearing closets, except for my bedroom, which I plan to leave with some items in it. Since I took one cat with me, I did not get the basement stairs painted. Last time I did it, I ended up with a couple of cat foot prints on the basement floor. It will be easier without an animal around.

I got back to Seneca and started cleaning and getting ready for my family visit. All siblings and spouses gathered in Seneca for our annual reunion – they were curious about what pulled me away from Roanoke after all these years. We had a good time, and even got a trip to visit our aunt and uncle in TN and one to the other aunt and uncle who were packing to leave N GA for FL. I had collected lots of brochures from the welcome center, and four of them discovered a nearby zipline tour and spent a day there. The other sister and I had an afternoon to chat on the porch. The weather changed the day after they arrived, to Fall temperatures, especially at night, making for good porch-sitting time. They were all used to much less humidity, in spite of it feeling dry to me. One evening we visited the campground where Alice and Rich stayed, to see their new camping trailer. It is very nice, more luxury than either of the travel trailers I lived in for a few years. Talked a lot, ate a lot, and just had a pleasant week. All safely home again.

zipline sibs

I just switched to Medicare. Wow, the number of companies who flood you with mail about the supplemental plans – I have a stack over 6 inches high. Thankfully my former employer hired a consulting firm to help us through the confusion, and I have selected a plan that should work best for me. Best part is that this plan handles the Medicare side, so I only worry about submitting to them. I remember what a mess my mother had with 2 insurances submissions, especially after they switched to have her secondary handle Medicare. I wonder how medical providers keep any of it straight. Of course, they don’t always. I remember it taking me nearly a year after my mother passed away before I got things straightened out.

I am still working on getting a business together online, but one day before long I will be selling my jewelry. It has surprised me how much really needs to be decided and started before I even order business cards. I am trying to be very methodical about it, and to follow advice about what has worked well for others, even if I only want an outlet for my hobby, not full-time. That makes it easier when the government gets involved at tax time. I want to earn enough to pay for my supplies, maybe a small travel fund. I have a lot of photography to work through my completed pieces, and I am trying to learn the best way to shoot without glare. This is another whole hobby to pick up. I am working on a website, a Facebook page, and will have an Etsy store.

header pic

Jewelry Weaves by Donna

I am soon to trek back to Roanoke for a final cleaning, staging, paint touch-ups. I hope I find a realtor to list it for what I want to ask, as I think I have enough upgrades and it will present itself really well, that I should be at the high end for this size house.

Storm Damage

We had a very localized bit of bad weather yesterday. I suspect it is what they call a micro-burst of wind, along with a lot of rain, but it lasted less than a half hour. We lost some trees, a few neighbors lost branches, and power was out for three hours. When Sharon was out earlier today, she did not see damage except nearby. We think a tree or power lines came down across the road, as traffic yesterday stopped for a while.

screened room and patio mess

screened room and patio mess

I also probably lost the screened room I had on the back patio. The legs were under some big concrete blocks, but the wind just lifted it up and flipped it. A wrought iron bird feeder crook caught one leg and the screen, and was bent flat to the ground, but held onto the structure. Quite a few tears, will have to see if they are repairable, and if the framework has not been too damaged. It is too wet around it yet today (soggy clay) to try to pick it up.

tree down on back property line

tree down on back property line

Everything happened in a narrow path along one side of the property. One small tree between my house and the building next door came down. The biggest surprise was a very large pine in Sharon’s front shade bed, snapped at the ground, missed plants, including the Bradford pear, and cleared the corner of her house by less than 5 feet. And neither of us heard it fall. As seen in the picture, it was a pretty big one to fall. Maybe the branches cushioned it enough not to hit too hard.

pine down in shade garden

pine down in shade garden

side view of tree

side view of tree

I guess we’ll be looking for someone who wants free firewood.

Thoughts on the Future

This has been a time of getting back to some routine. The cats are still cuddling near, making me feel so guilty at leaving them too much. Cats can act so aloof that it is easy to forget how closely they bond with people.

After much consideration, I am planning on adding another dome to my house structure instead of building another whole home and renting the first. I will just add a master bedroom and bathroom, and living room, with a powder room in the entry/mudroom. It will be a little larger than the current one, as I realize how difficult it is to fit a lifetime of stuff into a tiny space. I really have thrown out or given away a lot, but that still leaves a lot to consolidate from a house of 1100 sq ft, plus basement and attic, to less than 600 sq ft (current dome), plus some storage buildings.

sketchy view of additional dome and entry

sketchy view of additional dome and entry

I am hoping the construction will be much less invasive than a remodel, since the new dome can be connected near the end of construction to the outside of my current living space. Of course the noise will be very close, but I will be nearby for overseeing details. I am probably doing wishful thinking here, but at least it won’t be 24 hours per day.

Another advantage I foresee is keeping a screen door between the main living section (new dome and entry room) and the kitchen (existing dome). Two of my cats jump onto counters when I’m not around, and I really do not like them on counters in the kitchen and dining room. The other cat does not jump on things, and she needs medication, so I would like to be able to separate her feeding from the boys and give her extra.

With only one more dome, no additional kitchen or laundry, I will save quite a bit of money. I have been thinking about some of the luxuries (dream time) I can afford with just adding on, and I should not have to re-finance the mortgage. I miss my remodeled bathroom in Roanoke. I really would like a soaker tub – the kind where you sit and have water over your shoulders. But most I’ve seen are quite expensive, so I will have the bathroom plumbed for a tub, but put the tub on the end of my wish list. I will have room for a separate shower stall.

Cork floors are another item I want to explore. Don’t think of bulletin boards, but a very compressed and durable surface. If not, probably bamboo is my next consideration.

I want a tile back splash in the kitchen, and the space is not too big, so I will have that fairly high on my wish list. It does involve work in my current living space, though.

I will probably run a gas line to the house after all. The cost for the distance from the main line is high, but I want to put in a gas-powered boiler for a radiator system, besides other items, and am not sure if propane is a good choice. Another item to study.

At the very bottom of my wish list is a stairway in my current tiny living room, so I can reach my loft storage myself. I hate having to get someone else to climb a ladder to get stuff. It is a much better storage area, out of easy reach of mice and bugs, than a storage building is for some of my items. The stairs would have to have an angle or two to reach the top, but I’m sure something could be devised. Until then, the function will be pantry, including a freezer.

I have made a list of all my furniture, from both places, and think almost everything can be used. I will see at that time what I can do with extras.

Unfortunately, this is all in the future, as the other house needs to be sold before I can afford to start building again.