Thursday, January 23, 2020

Countdown.....

by Patti Vanderbloemen

January 23, 2020

So, this is the current state of many areas within my home right now:


The location above is actually what was my studio. The rest of the house is still waiting to be boxed...



Ugh.  Anyway, I have had a few messages from people asking me how it's going...so this is just an update as of today!

Along with the mundane and physically exhausting pain of moving (boxes, boxes, and more boxes), there are so many details that have to be completed.  Final doctor appointments (mom's, too), purging (I cannot believe how much was purged...we were only here less than 12 months! haha), cancellation of memberships (church), cancellation of all the Florida business accounts (another big UGH)...just so much administrative stuff - smack dab in the middle of preparation for tax time.  Yippee!

What many people have commented, or messaged, is...how can you leave that view?


The photo above was last night's sunset ... and yes...it is beautiful...no argument there!  It was 35 degrees here last night, and that does not include the massive winds one receives when they live on Tampa Bay!  I WAS IN HEAVEN!!!  Yes...it does get chilly in Florida (I refuse to say cold, because come on...35 degrees is NOT cold!)  But, I am not totally abandoning my water view when I move back to Virginia.  This is a picture of my new back yard:

New Home Site on the Occoquan River

The picture above will be the view from the back of the house - kitchen, patio, etc.  So.....I actually look forward to NOT seeing white caps on the water!  We break ground on the new home next month and will hopefully be in by Christmas.  And yes...I do feel very blessed that I am able to do this, especially at this stage of my life.  I do not take anything for granted.

So ...how is it going?  I am doing fantastic - seriously!  I am counting down the days until I leave the State of Florida.  There is a light at the end of my tunnel, and it keeps getting brighter and brighter. 

I do have a word of advice for anyone who may be thinking of moving to Florida - or ANYWHERE out of there current state for that matter - please do your research on Health care!! We thought we did a thorough vetting of the available health care down here.  We are self insured -- have been for years --- so we found the insurance, checked the location of hospitals and doctors in our area. We found an excellent Primary Care Provider.  What we DID NOT do was actually research specific Doctor Specialists.  And by that, I mean check reviews - Health Grades, Yelp, etc.  We just looked on our insurance, found the doctors, and blindly chose specialists.  What a joke!

The rest of this blog post is just a therapeutic venting for me - I don't like to post personal, negative stuff on social media - including my personal blog, which I try to keep to jewelry making.  But, I have to here, 'cause I just cannot take it anymore!

Florida, Hillsborough County at least, has become so overcrowded in the past 10 years that there are just not enough qualified doctors for the number of people who reside here (this is just my humble opinion, and my neighbors opinions, and the nurses opinions, too). I just think 10 weeks to get in to see an orthopedic surgeon is ridiculous.  And, I could only see a Nurse Practitioner--- sorry ----I mean no offense to Nurse Practitioner's, but if I have to wait that long, I want to see a doctor! Today---nearly 5 months since trying to receive treatment for my chronic back pain - and after 2 visits with a Nurse Practitioner, X-Rays, an MRI, a Nuclear Bone Scan, 2 rounds of blood work, and 10 Physical Therapy Sessions-- I finally saw the orthopedic surgeon.

My 11:15 appointment began with my arrival at 10:50 am (why I have to arrive 30 minutes early is beyond me) with the receptionist advising me the doctor was running 1 hour behind. Pfft!  News Flash to Doctors - my time is as valuable as yours, especially when I have to drive an hour to get there to see you!  Anyway, he spent a total of 4, maybe 5 minutes with me. He fumbled through his file of my medical records. The bone scan images were on the screen - he was unable to zoom in on any area, though he did attempt many times.  Not sure he even read the written report, as he asked the nurse "Where is the report?"  After a few minutes of him cutting me off mid sentence when he would ask me a question, he declared that my 59 year old back looked like the back of a 40 year-old.  When I questioned him on the numerous bulging and herniated discs that were pressing on my nerves (another news flash doc - I can read a radiology report), he said "That happens to everyone your age".

He actually asked me, rather incredulously, "what do you want me to do for you"? At this point, I knew he was useless to me (and the rest of the world looking for answers) and I told him I was moving to Virginia in less than 5 weeks...I did not want him to do a thing - just give me the results of the tests and I will find a Pain Management Doctor in Virginia who can offer me some pain relief.  He said, "well good luck with your new doctor in Virginia", and left.  Just left.

I shocked myself when he left - I told the nurse, who looked just as shocked at his lack of empathy and compassion, that "he is an asshole with zero bedside manner".  I may have added another choice curse word or two (I did add THAT word)  which I have NEVER DONE IN MY LIFE. That's how angry I was, and frankly, it was liberating. And she just nodded, as if I was not the first person to voice those words to her.

I apologize for using this method of venting my frustrations. It's really more of a warning to anyone who may be considering an out-of-state move in the future. Please, I beg you, DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST!

I did not write this blog post for sympathy - truly. The Physical Therapist down here was AWESOME and I perform the stretches and exercises daily, and they have helped immensely in managing my pain.

Looking at this face everyday also helps!

Sarge 
Thank you for letting me vent, and as always, thanks for stopping by!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Big News...for me!

by Patti Vanderbloemen 

I have not kept up with this blog space of mine - I have written in the past that I am not too sure people like to read blogs anymore. Social media sights seem to have taken precedence - it's more "on the spot, get to the point" than a blog post.  But, I know for a fact that with what I have to say today, NO ONE would read that long of a Facebook post (my go-to-source for social media lately). So, if you have landed on this page, Thank You for visiting and taking the time to read my thoughts!

I lived in Virginia for not all, but the majority of my adult life. Most of my immediate family is there.  We built what we thought was our "Dream and Forever Home" about 6 years ago.  Last year, for various reasons, we decided to make a change and move to Florida. My folks lived in the Tampa area for over 25 years, and I was quite familiar with this part of the State. So, after several trips to Florida and narrowing down our number one priority (water front), we purchased a just-built home in October 2018. Mostly for this reason:

My backyard - Tampa Bay, Florida
Although the house was brand-spanking new, it was not purchased from a builder, but from an individual who had intended on making this home his "Forever Home". After much back and forth, we decided to purchase the home but needed several renovations and fixes to be completed prior to moving (including renovating a laundry room that would actually be large enough to turn around!). We flew down to Florida several times, met and contracted with a builder, and came up with a time line, and an eventual move-in date of February 2019.

I believe the term "Island Time" applies to most subcontractors in Florida (at least Hillsborough County).  The builder we have was/is awesome - but the subcontractors...not so much. Truly - never had someone make an appointment with me and simply ... Not. Show. Up. Not everything was completed by the time we moved in, but we moved in anyway. We still had projects to complete, so we attempted to contract with various plumbers (they are the worst) and electricians to get the jobs done.  It was probably the hardest and most frustrating 6 months I have ever encountered in my life...and I have moved many times over the years. To this day, subcontractors and vendors make appointments...and simply do not show up.

Source: makeameme.org
Health care is another issue that just does sit well with me. Trying to get in to see a doctor - specialists in particular - is ridiculous. Just one example...I have had back issues for the past 20 years, and every year or so, I just need to visit an orthopedic, get an MRI, and receive the all important Physical Therapy that truly helps me. I don't want drugs - just PT! My journey to find a Spine Specialist began in September 2019. Finally had my appointment 7 weeks later on November 20 (along with a 2 hour wait time in the lobby), first available MRI was December 8, and the first available follow up is January 8, 2020.  That's 4 months!  Two days ago, I received news that was truly the straw that broke this camel's back. I received an email from this Orthopedic that my January 8 2020 follow up appointment was cancelled due to "scheduling constraints", along with a note to please contact us to make a new appointment. I called...and February 15 2020 is a bit too long for me to wait for a follow up appointment for an MRI that was completed on December 8.  Stick a fork in me as I am done.

Source Unknown (Pinterest)


This is just one example of the lack of adequate health care in the south Hillsborough County area of Florida.  I won't bore you with the rest. I feel for the elderly, however, who chose Florida for their final retirement. Especially the "single" senior citizens, who have no one to serve as the advocate and go-between. Several nurses with the various doctors we have seen simply state that the area has too many people and not enough doctors.

Well...three people will be leaving - that should free up some space!

In August, we drove back to Virginia for a few days to spend time with immediate family, and found a lot of land. New house is designed, and we break ground around February 2020.  Estimated completion is December 2020. Let's face it - the view in Florida is beautiful, but there is so much more to life than looking out a window!

The original completion date for the new home was going to be September 2020, but as with all new construction, that date has been pushed. So, as of yesterday, we are tentatively scheduled to bug out of Florida by 1 March 2020, as trying to go through the selection process REMOTELY for all the nitty gritty details on a home is just too daunting. We found a rental home close by the new lot and we could not be happier, Sarge included!


The Boss... Sarge
Frankly, the thought of packing for an out-of-state move SO SOON kinda makes me sick to my stomach...but I will prevail!  However, my smithing days are numbered.  I will not be setting up a studio in the rental home. So, the real purpose of this blog post is that I am closing my shop effective 1 January 2020 - and it will likely remain closed the entire year. It's scary thinking I will not have this creative outlet available to me. But, the end result of moving back to Virginia is the bright spot in my story!

Turquoise and Bali Silver Bracelet

With an original move date of August/September, I have been diligently stocking my shop - and it is chock full of goodies that I truly do not want to sit in storage for a year!

Faceted Labradorite Cuff with 14K Gold Accent

So....I am have a true - Store Closing Sale in my shop!
Hammered Copper and Turquoise Earrings

Azurite and Artisan Glass Sterling Silver Necklace

Garnet and Pierced Sterling Silver Earrings
Emeralds and Sterling Silver Earrings

Etched Copper and Blue Chalcedony Earrings

I am starting off this Store Closing Sale with 35% off - no minimum.  Everything must go!

Just use the coupon code: CLOSE35

And EVERY SINGLE PENNY from the proceeds of my sales will be donated to Miracle Horse Rescue and Sanctuary - as always! 

If you have made it to the end of this blog post - Thank You for taking the time to commiserate with me! :) It's only Happy Thoughts from here on out!

Much Love,
Patti

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Semantics....

by Patti Vanderbloemen

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday.  As I sit here and type this blog post on my PC, I am reminded how easy it is to edit nowadays. Yes, I learned how to type on a MANUAL TYPEWRITER. In fact, I took a class in 9th grade. So while I type, delete, type delete, I realize that there are so many colloquialism's that just were not around in the 1970's. Cyber Monday in 1976? I don't think so as cyber had a whole different meaning back then....
Okay...maybe not this "Manual" hehe
Photo Credit: Grandinroad
Actually, Black Friday could have been around in those days. But we - as a rule - never even stepped foot in a store the day after Thanksgiving.  That was reserved for decorating the house for Christmas. Now, hitting the stores for massive deals The Day After Christmas, well...that's a whole different story!

Personally, I hate shopping - in stores, that is. My mother and sister will attest to this fact. Except for the grocery store, and a few local shops around town, I just don't do it. Now, shopping online is a Whole Different Story! It's magical - it's available 24 hours a day for goodness sake! No driving on I-95 (or any other over-congested-and-filled-with-road-rage-warriors-streets in Northern Virginia), no need to grab the umbrella during inclement weather, no waiting for stores to open, etc. But the best reason...I can shop in my jammies if I want to.  And I want to.

My postal carrier, UPS, and FedEx drivers personally know my face, especially during this time of year. In fact, our UPS driver is so nice that I can be driving down the road and he will be waving at me - no lie!

Photo Credit
In this little business of mine, I buy a lot of handmade goods from small businesses. Why? First off - quality control. Their good name is on the line - one bad review can be a death sentence, albeit temporary, until the problem is fixed. And if there is a problem, it will get fixed (Try that with a purchase made from stores that shall remain nameless). But, more importantly, when I can find what I need from a Small Business Owner, I know that I am receiving, oftentimes, one of a kind art. But an even more significant little factoid, is that I am helping them pay their mortgage, groceries, car payments, insurance, etc...maybe I am supporting a stay-at-home-mom who cannot afford day care, so she works from home while caring for her family. That is why I support Small Business.

Photo Credit

For every single jewelry purchase made from my small business, I like to include a little gift. I don't advertise that I do this - I just do it. For the past couple of years, I have included a sample size of soap, lotion, lip balm, or solid lotion melt, made by Catherine Pruitt of The Bathing Goddess. I have been using her products for some time now - and they are A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! I want everyone to experience the myriad of softness and scents that come from her handmade products! Cat is a mom of 5 (five!!!), and has recently returned to school to earn her nursing degree. Though she is nearly 20 years younger than me, I know for a fact that I could not accomplish in a week what she accomplishes in one day. I know she does that little "jig" every time someone purchases goods from her shop. (I'd like to see her dance that little jig in person one day) :)

The Bathing Goddess

Many of the jewelry supplies I purchase (yes...in the middle of the night sometimes), are from small business, as well. The necklace below features gorgeous handmade artisan glass beads by Jody Brimhall (her shop can be found here). Many of her beads remind me of gemstones - so beautiful.

Artisan Glass, Wood, and Jade Necklace and Earrings
I have highlighted the uniqueness of Vincent and Nooma Cav's pewter work before on this little blog of mine.  I think it bears repeating. Vincent's shop, Inviciti, can be found here.

Amethyst Nuggets and Artisan Pewter Cross Necklace and Earrings

Each mold is carved by hand - I am particularly smitten with any of their components containing a cross.


In my book, Julie Burgard, of Outwest, is the Queen of disc shaped beads. She has a keen eye for colors and texture - but the shapes - truly perfection!

Artisan Glass Pale Blue and Sterling Silver Earrings
I would be remiss if I left out one of my favorite lampwork artists for glass cabochons, Mikelene Reusse of Growing Edge Glass. Her colors are vibrant - and there is usually a focal color or swirl that brings the eye right into the glass. Not only is she an impressive lampwork artist, but she is an incomparable silver smith - I adore her clean, modern style.

Artisan Glass Cabochon and Sterling Tension Bangle

See how she formed a rose with glass (!)  in this cabochon? Swoon-worthy!

Artisan Glass with Garnet Sterling Silver Necklace
My sometimes middle-of-the-night purchases also include gemstones. I first "met" (online of course!) Janie Mills of Jewel Suppliers through an online class. Many times, her offerings are quite unique, as she travels often!

Turquoise Spiny Oyster and Sterling Post Style Earrings
I bought those 10 mm Turquoise Spiny Oyster gemstones not too long ago, as I had a coordinating, focal size gemstone in my stash and I knew it would go perfectly! 

Turquoise Spiny Oyster Mixed Metal Pendant Necklace

If you have stuck with me this long, I thank you.  Please...during this Holiday Season (and also, whenever possible), please support the Handmade and/or Small Business community.  




I do not take the time to blog nearly as much as I want - I am gearing up for our move from Northern Virginia to Florida in February 2019.  To that end, I will be closing up my shop at the end of 2018 so that I can properly attack the massive amount of packing and associated inventory that needs to be done prior to my exit.  Sigh.

Thank you ever so much for stopping by! 

XO
Patti

Friday, October 26, 2018

Wow...it has been a while!

by Patti Vanderbloemen

I have not written a post in this blog space of mine for nearly 2 years. Frankly, I am not sure that many people actually read my posts, as it appears that Social Media has taken over the "communication stratosphere".  But, I wanted to share something that is just too verbose to put on a Face Book post.

For the past 6 months, my little family and I have been toying with the idea of moving to Florida. After several scouting trips South, we narrowed down the location to the Tampa area, as my folks lived there for over 25 years and I quite liked it! We closed on our last (I SWEAR-NOT DOING THIS ANYMORE!!) forever home last month, and we will be heading South for good sometime in February 2019.

The good news is that we will be moving less than 15 minutes away from Mom's "old neighborhood" and I am hoping there will be more interactions for her with some of her old friends!

African Turquoise and Carnelian 
It's has been very stressful, to say the least - and the move has not even begun! We have a few more trips planned (including one this upcoming week) - all related to prepping the house for final move-in.  So, my creative time in the studio these days has been extremely limited.

Hammered Copper and Silver Hoops
I am simply peppering this post with some of my latest designs - all favorites!

Patterned Sterling Silver and Blue Chalcedony

Royston Turquoise and Sterling Silver Ring
The administrative details to moving out of state are overwhelming to me - I won't bore you with the details. I have a bit of organizational OCD though, so, what is easy for some, is not for me!
Hammered Sterling Silver Hoops
In moving over 900 miles from here, I am leaving my immediate family members: sister and brother in law, nieces and their spouses, great nieces and nephews, brother and sister in law, etc. THIS has made the decision so hard. But, my in-laws also live in Florida - albeit the East Coast - and it is important to be less than 3 hours away from them now. This constant flying back and forth is a life only for the birds these days.  Life is a balancing act...

Photo Credit via Pinterest 

When we moved into our current home less than 5 years ago, I was blessed to have the studio of my dreams! I even made sure to have a sink in this space! Prior to that, my space was in my unfinished basement-definitely an upgrade.  In my new home, it will be in the garage. However, the garage is actually quite suited to metalsmithing and I will have a/c so I won't faint from the Florida heat! :) Frankly, the heat in Virginia is not much better!

In preparing to move, The Purge has begun...big time. When it comes to my studio and all my materials, I have been separating items that I just don't use anymore: lots, and lots of beads, findings,  a few tools, etc.  I don't know if I should have some sort of destash event on Face book - or just box up the whole lot and give it away to a charitable organization who may benefit from these treasured goodies.  Anyone have a suggestion? Would anyone be interested in a destash event - or - know of a place where I send these goodies off where they will actually be used?  I would appreciate any and all feed back!

There will obviously be a lag time from when I close down my online shop while I move and set up. I hope I still have customers and followers when that time comes...it scares me a bit! (Honestly, it scares me more than just a bit)

But, in the end, this will be my new view from my kitchen....I am hoping it will all be worth it when the dust finally settles!


My best to all who took the time to read this - thanks for stopping by!

XO

Friday, December 2, 2016

Where does the time go?

Standard cliche - but I truly cannot believe that December has snuck up on me yet again. Sigh. Since I have not kept up with my blog, I decided to write a sort of rambling post today and just sprinkle some pictures of recent designs I have made here and there. Some have sold, and others are still available.

Copper Flower Post Earrings
Sterling and Copper Flower Post Earrings 


I had a fantastic Thanksgiving this year! We hosted my sister and her family, and it was truly enjoyable! Although, anytime you add a child to the mix (Gavin is 2 years and 3 months old), it always increases the fun. The past year has held so much negativity, politically speaking, that it was simply refreshing. I look forward to Christmas when my house will hold even more little ones!

Fold Formed Sterling Leaf and Lapis Lazuli Necklace


 
I opened up my own website a while ago, through Indiemade. In the meantime, I have kept my Etsy shop, which basically has the same items. I opened my own website when Etsy first allowed manufactured items, versus handmade. It was hard choice for me, as I am not all that computer literate and starting a brand new site was so time consuming. While there were lots of negatives to Etsy, there were also lots of positives. 

Heavy Gauge Twisted Sterling Silver Bangle

I recently read in a Facebook forum where a woman had an item from her shop "yanked" by the legal team of Etsy, stating the title of her necklace was subjected to copyright infringement.  She has been making this same necklace for years and has sold many. The fact that Etsy can pull an item/suspend it from your shop with no feedback from you really irritates me to no end.


Set of 3 Stacking Bracelets, with Turquoise (sold)
Etsy also has two payment methods for Seller's to offer to their customers - PayPal or Direct Checkout.  With Direct Checkout, the customer simply uses a credit card without going through PayPal. The Seller, however, does not actually receive the funds for a minimum of 3 days. Example: Customer purchases through Direct Checkout on Monday. On Tuesday, IF I REMEMBER, I have to instruct Etsy to deposit the funds immediately. I would receive the funds in my chosen bank account by close of business Wednesday (available to me on Thursday).  If the seller forgets to instruct Etsy to deposit the funds immediately, they are deposited to the seller's account in 7 days. This irritates me! Why should Etsy have use of the seller's funds for ANY amount of time? 

Rainbow Fluorite Bracelet (sold)


Lapis Lazuli and Cloissione Bracelet (sold)
When an item is listed for sale in Etsy, there is a $0.20 listing fee, plus a nominal fee is kept by Etsy if the item is sold. Items are listed for 90 days...they then expire, and the seller has to pay an additional $0.20 to relist the item. It does not sound like a lot of fees...but it adds up!

Sapphire and Sterling Silver Ring


I have had only a few sales on Etsy this past year. So, I have decided not to relist any items that expire. By March, my Etsy shop will be empty.

Onward!

For the past few months, I have gone crazy using Pattern Sterling Silver wire. I am a lover of texture, and this wire is amazing,

Patterned Sterling Silver Bangle
  

Patterned Sterling Silver Earrings

Patterned Sterling Silver Earrings


Some of the wire available is square - this is some thick wire! Not always easy to manipulate, but I was determined!

Pattern Sterling Silver Earrings - Square Wire (sold)

Pattered Sterling Silver Earrings - Square Wire (sold)

Pattern Sterling Silver Hoops (sold)

Triple Hoop Earrings with Pattern Sterling Silver Wire

I have also enjoyed playing with stamps. I do not have a proper anvil, but I did recently purchase a 12" piece of railroad track that has significantly improved my stamping.  That long, flat surface of hardened steel is so much better than my little 3" x 3" bench block.

Tiger's Eye and Garnet Stamped Sterling Silver Necklace



Artisan Glass Cabochon and Stamped Sterling Silver Necklace


I have not participated in a craft show for several years now - my chronic spine and neck issues just cannot handle all that stress.  So, I have relied solely on online sales.  My sincere gratitude to my online customers.  I had the best November sales EVER - and Miracle Horse Rescue received every last dollar! This warms my heart --- the support of handmade and ultimately, the equines of MHR!

Justice!

Stephanie (R), Me,and Dusty!

Luna and Millie
One last plea...if you are so inclined!  Here are the residents of Miracle Horse Rescue under the wonderful care of Stephanie and Rob Pierce.  The horse of your choice would love to receive a Christmas Card to decorate their barn this season!


If you are still with me here ... THANK YOU! And as always, thank you so much for stopping by! I wish you all Peace during this most special Holiday Season!

XO
Patti