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Craft Nite (round 2) With Chain Maille!

Posted by Kate on May 23 at 02:47 pm

The two things that stress me out the most here in bead-land are probably the mere mention of seed beads (we carry over 1100!) and/or chain maille. There’s so many LITTLE pieces! My fine motor skills have never been stellar (though I can type 75 wpm, does that count?) and all these little rings and beads can feel overwhelming. Anyone else get anxiety like that??

So when Kadie told me we were launching Weave Got Maille kits and suggested we try it out for another craft night, I was a little dubious. But as I considered her proposal, I figured this was something I could handle. After all, a kit has all the materials you’d need to make the picture on the box AND it has step by step instructions. (Also, they are bracelet-making kits, so I hoped to have a finished product in no time. It helps to have that positive sense of accomplishment early on when pursuing something new).

 

Challenge Accepted

Craft Night supplies

*Note: do not wreck your chain nose pliers by trying to pry off a bottle cap, please use a bottle opener for safety ;-)

Kadie and I gathered our materials and because of the SUPER nice Michigan weather we’ve been having, we sat out on my front porch. People watching, pizza eating, and chain-mailling ensued. :) We noticed there was no warning on the kits for Beginner, Advanced, or Expert– so we had no choice but to jump right in and select a kit based solely on looks. Kadie chose the Byzantine bracelet because she liked the intricacies of the rings connecting. I chose the Shaggy Loop bracelet because it had seed beads in it (kill two birds with one stone right!?).

 

Jump Rings!Now, I must admit, beading outside was THE BEST. Fresh air, friendly folks, birds singing, and being so close to the green grass helped me totally forget how crazy all these tiny pieces make me. I know, I know, folks often feel most comfortable in their little beading den, which is fine. But have you ever been outside? It’s great. I took a tip from one of our customers and brought out an old cookie sheet. Because my kit had the seed beads, I also brought out a dishtowel to serve as my beading mat (pretty inventive, right?). Being overwhelmed by the sizes, gauges, and types of jump rings was totally cut out of the picture with these kits. Upon opening, we found each type of ring in its own separate bag– made organization so easy! Then, my favorite part…the directions!! All we had to provide were the pliers. Kadie and I found ourselves using a mish-mash of different types of pliers, but decided using chain nose pliers without ridges was the best. It seriously cut down on ‘marring’ the rings. (At one point I started in with a pair of pliers from my travel tool box– thanks, Dad!– and while they held the rings well, the “grips” on there really dug into the jump rings).

Down to Business

Kadie's off to a great start!Kadie got off to a great start. With over 200 rings before her and a first instruction of “open all your jump rings,” she was a little exasperated. But WOW. Be sure to listen to that first instruction! It makes it so much easier to get into a groove while chain maille-ing! It seemed like a silly instruction– and why not open while you go?– trust us, these Weave Got Maille people know what they’re doing! My kit didn’t have nearly as many rings as Kadie’s, but it did have the seed beads. I actually snatched a few other colors from Lima Beads’ stash because I wanted to make a Michigan State themed bracelet…so I needed some greens to go with the included whites. :-D

After about an hour, we had definitely made some progress: all our jump rings had been opened, we started in on the patterns given us, AND we had nearly polished off a whole pizza (mmmm!). Alas, the sun was setting so we had to move the operation indoors. My living room coffee table hosted our very portable cookie sheet cum beading tray and we were back at the assembly.

Using pliers

Kate, trying not to go cross-eyed and facing her fears!

 Wrap Up

All in all, these little kits were great. It provided all materials (except pliers). It explained things clearly. And it made some pretty fancy looking jewelry! A mere three hours and what an accomplishment! Kadie thinks her bracelet was a little more difficult than mine… because it involved a little extra ‘weaving’ rather than just open/close of the jump rings. However, the instructions taught her how to do it. If a couple of novices could handle it, I think you can too! If you’ve ever been curious about chain maille, but overwhelmed by where to start, these little kits will set you up right and get you on the path to making your own tie-dyed-t-shirt (thanks, Pinterest!) in no time!! (No joke- we’ve got tons of multi-colored rings, perfect for a tie-dye project!)

Craft Nite Success!

Happy crafting!

Kate & Kadie Craft Nite

Posted by Kate on January 31 at 01:45 pm

I think it’s fair to say that Ali has earned her position as “Creative Director” here at Lima Beads, right? We’re all pretty enamored with the designs, concepts, and color pairings she comes up with. Sometimes, though, I look out into our warehouse at all these components, just begging to be made into a beautiful piece of jewelry and I think, “What can I make outta this?!” I tend to be all thumbs when it comes to the fine-motor skills of jewelry making. Not to mention (ask Kadie) my attention span is somewhat lacking in the length department.

A Craft Nite is born

Kadie and I decided it was time to put some of these tips, techniques and design inspirations to the test by holding our own crafting night to see if a) we could follow directions enough to make something someone might actually want to wear; and b) see if Kate could actually finish a project instead of hiding one more half-finished project under the living room coffee table…

We started by picking a project: the Anchor Bracelet. Nautically themed & classy. Our friends at TierraCast had posted a video to YouTube teaching us how to make a couple knots and voila! An easy 5-minute bracelet! (In actuality it took Kadie the prescribed 5 minutes, while Kate spent most of the time trying to select which color leather cord to use…her total time came to approx 13-minutes. But no crying! So that’s good :) ).

It just feels good to actually get a project completed, doesn’t it? Sometimes I feel like we all need a little “quick and easy” project to re-calibrate our creativity and talents. To get us over any lingering “winter-blahs”. Or to simply have a starting point from which to embellish and re-invent. So, I know it’s a little late (the first month, nearly over), but Kate & Kadie craft nights are going to be our New Year’s resolution. To try to carve out time from our busy day-jobs and get crafty ;) What’s your favorite Q&E project? Or is that asking to reveal too great of secret?

Here’s the video from TierraCast on how to make the soon-to-be-very famous Anchor Bracelet:

And here’s Kadie following instructions like a pro:

Our finished products:

 

What you’ll need to make the bracelet:

1.5mm leather cord

 
A TierraCast Anchor pendant (antique brass, gunmetal, antique silver)


A large hole bead (we found the bead used in the video to be a little too small). Here’s our suggestion:

 

A dab of Hypo Cement (or any other adhesive)

 

Back into Beading

Posted by Kate on August 30 at 01:43 pm

Hi All! Kate here. I’m the newbie here at Lima Beads and this is my first blog post. (You can read more about me and where I come from on my bio page). Today I wanted to introduce the inspiration behind this week’s Tip & Technique: the Simple Knotted Leather Cord Bracelet.

I just recently created and posted my first Fresh Pick and was really struck by the Lima Community and their encouraging words regarding my pick. (Thank you!) The truth is, I haven’t done much beading lately– not since high school when my hippy friends and I spent Friday nights in someone’s parents’ basement making hemp necklaces and listening to Phish or Dave Matthews or Smashing Pumpkins (OK, I know that last one wasn’t very hippy-esque, but we liked Billy Corgan’s voice). What are your earliest memories of pursuing “the craft”?

Watch "The Simple Knotted Leather Cord Bracelet"So, after working here at Lima for a few weeks, I’ll be honest, I’ve been blown away by the creativity flowing through your fingers in the Design Gallery and Fresh Picks! I asked Ali what would be the next step for me, acknowledging my limited experience in hemp all those years ago, and she suggested a leather cord bracelet. It’s simple enough for me to do :-) AND Ali’s years of experience point out some great tips for anyone who’s using the knotted technique or working with leather cord in some other way.

We made this video after our chat about the technique. Check it out! And I’d love to hear about your earliest memories of jewelry making!

 

Ann Arbor Art Fair!

Posted by Ali on July 19 at 12:58 pm

Greetings all, from the Ann Arbor Art Fair!

Aly's booth

My apologies for not unveiling a new Tip or Technique this week, but I’ve been super busy unveiling my jewelry at the 45th annual Ann Arbor Art Fair at State Street. If you’re in town this weekend, please come on by and say hello! We’re camped out on the strip of S. State Street, between E. Liberty and E. William. (Right across from local watering hole, Ashley’s– and they’ve been tempting us with hot dogs and beers–sounds like Summer to me!)

Ashley's hot dog booth

I guess it is possible that I am giving away all my trade secrets by broadcasting this, but many of the designs I’ve shared on Tips & Techniques, as well as in the Design Gallery, are beautifully laid out on my table in this sweltering heat. (Big thanks to my little sister who came up from Florida to hang out with me and haul loads of necklaces, bracelets and earrings downtown).

Sister, Lauren

Did you love learning the Ladder Stitch from this video? That piece is here! The Transparent Resin Frame tutorial turned into these cool earrings, also displayed at my humble table. Boardwalk at Twilight bracelet? Got ‘em. Garden Droplets? Check.

frame earrings

This isn’t just one big advertisement for my super-awesome booth at the Ann Arbor Art Fair. :) But I wanted to let you all know where I have been for the past few weeks (longer if you count all the hours crafting!). Do you participate in Art Fairs? They are a lot of work! As somewhat of a veteran at this point, my number one tip is to always always put your sparkly pieces in the sunlight (eye catchers!) and of course, have a card with your name, contact info, AND location in the fair. Seems simple enough, but those simple things are the easiest to forget sometimes! Those are my tips, but I like to consider myself a life-long learner, so I’d be curious to know, what is your #1 Best Advice when hitting the Art Fair circuit?


top table

Aly in action

 

The Lima Boys Turn One

Posted by Kevin on April 21 at 11:16 am

I can’t believe that it’s been a year since we announced the arrival of the Lima babies. They recently celebrated their first birthdays and they’re getting so big!

Andrew’s son Douglas has been busy learning his first words and sign language at daycare. His favorites are “gah-doo” for “thank you” and “gog” for “dog”. He also waves hello and says “hiiiiiiiiiiiiii” to everybody he meets. He isn’t walking yet, but loves crawling and pushing his trucks along saying, “vroooom!”. We think he’s going to be a good reader because he will pull all his books off the shelf and sit on the pile, flipping through each one page by page and showing us the pictures.
douglas_post
Matt’s son Henry is a goofball. Whether it’s eating a lemon and making silly faces, or giving his stuffed animals big, slobbery kisses, he’s constantly finding new ways to make us laugh. He’s getting more comfortable walking, but his preferred method of getting around is still crawling. In fact, the only time he’ll consistently walk is right before his bath and he’s stripped down to his diaper. Don’t all babies just love to be naked? :)
henry_post
My son Gable is an explorer. We couldn’t wait for him to start crawling — what were we thinking! He’s fast and curious about everything: lamps, dog bowls, plugs, stairs, our poor dog, and especially anything breakable. We child-proofed our house for our daughter (or so we thought), but Gable is on another level. He wants to walk so badly and will stand on his own, until he realizes that he’s on his own… He loves his mommy, his sister, food, and me. In that order.
gable_post

How Soon is Too Soon?

Posted by Matt on November 13 at 02:09 pm

As much as I love the season of fall, I love the Christmas time of year even more. So much so that I’m usually one of those people that like to decorate the tree the weekend after Halloween. We’ll, it’s been a couple of weeks since Halloween and to my wife’s dismay, the tree still is not up.

holidayShe’s been hounding me for these past two weeks, but I haven’t really had the urge to set up a Christmas tree.
I get why all of the stores are setting up early. Based on the numbers, it totally makes sense. One of the local radio stations started playing 100% Christmas music a week ago. Every time Deidra turns it on, I say to her, “Really?”

A couple of years ago, I would’ve said, “Crank it up!”

So, “Why the change of heart?” To be honest, I can’t really put my finger on it. I still get the same, warm, fuzzy feeling every year around Christmas time. Maybe I’m just getting grumpier in my old age. :)

I’m trying to weigh the pros and cons of decorating early. Here’s what I could come up with.

The Argument Against Decorating Early for the Holidays

This gem came from my Father-in-Law: “Whatever happened to Thanksgiving? I’d rather put the Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving and take it down in January, than put it up the day after Halloween and take it down the day after Christmas!”

Not only is there the risk of growing weary of the holidays, but I think that starting the holidays in early November starts to diminish the integrity of this special time. It only comes once a year, but when it lasts for over two months, I think it loses the “Wow!” factor.

The Argument For Decorating Early for the Holidays

For me at least, the obvious argument for setting up early is that it is, in Andy Williams’ words, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” It’s undeniable. In most cases, there’s no time like Christmas time.

On top of that, regardless of how early I set up the tree and turn on the Christmas music, I always feel like Christmas just comes and goes so fast! There’s always something that I wished I would’ve done, but didn’t really have the time. The last couple of years, it’s been Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village. I hear it’s pretty great, but I’ve yet to check it out.

Here are a couple of things that I absolutely have to do each and every holiday season:

The realization that I’ve come to after writing this is that Christmas time can be as long or as special as you make it. It could last all year, so long as we keep the spirit in our hearts and the peace in our lives. The stores and radio stations shouldn’t decide when we’re supposed to be preparing for this most special of times. It’s up to you.

What about all of you Christmas lovers? Do you love that the holiday season seems to be creeping earlier and earlier on the calendar? When do you start decorating? Do you have a list of things you absolutely need to do every holiday season?

Mission Impossible: Organizing My Beads

Posted by Ali on November 11 at 03:09 pm

photoThis past weekend, I found myself going through my now out-of-control bead room with Payton. I thought it would be an easy project to gather all of my favorite finds and organize them while she was playing with some fabric beads. There can’t be too many favorites, right? Well, as it turns out I have a lot of favorites and a lot of beads in general. Then I thought, at least I can thin out my bead stash by donating or reselling. The problem with that is that my favorite beads change with the seasons, my mood, etc. What am I supposed to do? This is my mission for November: Get my stash together before I start jamming on Christmas jewelry for gifts.

This is what I’ve tried in the past that worked at the time:

  • Dixie cups: Works for holding head pins and eye pins
  • Big red “keg” cups or a box: Works great for holding tools (these were always on hand in college :) )
  • Tackle boxes: traveling with beads. They have great little compartments for taking beads on the go. The only problem is that I now have too many beads to choose from and the tackle box I would need is the size of a small piece of luggage. I will say though that this also worked great when Kevin and I lived in a small apartment and I had to bead at the dining table. Tackle boxes are also great for storing glass or cz beads.
  • Plastic storage drawers on wheels: This worked in my apartment when I didn’t have a permanent beading spot. What I didn’t like about this storage method is that if you make the drawers heavy with too many beads, they don’t pull out very easily.
  • Beads in baggies inside of Tupperware bins with lids: This option worked great for the last year and I think that concept behind it could still work if I could find a better storage option. I used to store all my gemstones together, all my pearls together, all my vintage together, all my glass together…you get the drift. The problem then became that I would miss out on using a cool red bead because I had only been looking in my gemstone bin. I then decided that the best way to organize my beads because of the way I design was to do it based on color, regardless of material. For instance, I take all of my red beads no matter the type, put each in a Ziploc bag and put it in the bin labeled RED.

photoThe last option is by far my favorite for actual bead storage. The only remaining issue is that Payton likes to play with beads almost as much as I do. Our house is not huge, so her playroom doubles as my beading room. There are two problems with this. First, I have a limited amount of space to work with. Second, every time I go in the room, my beads are pulled out of their containers and strewn across the floor, because my little designer has been hard at work when I wasn’t looking :) I think what’ll happen is that I will find an amazingly perfect desk and come up with a fantastic wall storage for above. Sounds realistic right?

I would love to see pictures of your bead storage and/or studios. Not necessarily your beading desk or table, but the place where you store the beads and supplies you’re not actively working with.

What you think the best method for organizing your beads, tools, and projects is?

What special circumstances have you had to work with?

Please help!

It Really IS a Small World

Posted by Andrew M on November 05 at 01:07 pm

Are you familiar with the theory of “Six Degrees of Separation“? It states that all 7+ billion humans are linked to each other by no more than 6 connections. So, if I know Steve and Steve knows Matt, I am connected to Matt through 1 degree (Steve). If Matt knows Ali, I am connected to Ali by 2 degrees.

I’ve always thought the idea is fun to think about in theory, but it’s even cooler when you discover some of the completely random connections between people in your life.

My Favorite Customer

Lemonade Stand

My siblings and I ran a small lemonade stand every weekend during our summer vacations as kids. We set up shop on the corner of a busy street in suburban Atlanta that attracted hundreds of runners, walkers, and cyclists each weekend.

Thanks to the Atlanta heat and “Rock Bottom Pricing“, we sold gallons of watered down lemonade at $0.25 per cup. On a good day, we would each profit $5 or more (after paying mom and dad back for expenses, of course). That was BIG money in those days. Now I wish I had listened to my parents and saved it. ;)

We began to attract regular customers, but one British lady always stuck out in my mind because I loved hearing her accent, peculiar jokes, and strange phrases from “across the pond”. She also packed extra quarters in her fanny pack to buy our lemonade before and after her morning run. She quickly became our favorite customer.

Of course, eventually we grew up, got out of the lemonade business and never heard from her again. But the story doesn’t end there…

About 10 years later my grandparents took a sightseeing trip to London and stopped in a pub for a pint and some fish and chips. They started talking to the British lady on the next stool about travel and living overseas. Wouldn’t you know it…this woman had lived in the States just outside of Atlanta and was a frequent runner. (You know where this is going…)

It didn’t take long for them to figure out that the nice British lady was our favorite customer! They laughed at the near impossibility that they would end up at the same pub after 10 years on an entirely different continent!

We’re All Connected

I love the random moments in life that remind us how connected we are to each other. I’ve got plenty more, but I’m sure you do too. So, it’s your turn. What random connections have you discovered that seem to prove the theory that it really is a small world after all?

Photo Credit

Halloween Pet Costumes

Posted by Ali on October 30 at 10:44 am

At Lima Beads we thought it might be fun to share our pets’ Halloween costume pictures.

Dakota

Dakota

I can honestly say that we’ve never dressed Dakota up in anything. We’ve tried our T-shirts, bandanas, and booties, but he is never very excited. So when it came time to shop for a costume, I headed to Target. I know a homemade costume would be much cuter, but I barely have time to make a pair of earrings :) I enlisted the help of Payton (17 months old) to choose the right costume. She loves Dakota and loved nothing more than the idea of dressing him up to make him even more furry and cuddly. It came down to a chicken or a squirrel and as you can see, Payton chose the squirrel.

After putting Dakota through all of this without being able to enjoy his candy, I am feeling a little guilty so I was thinking about baking him some fresh doggie treats (recipe courtesy of The Martha Stewart Show October 2009)

Izzy’s Apple Cheddar Dog Biscuits

  • 2 cups barley flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients and about 3 tablespoons water to form a dough. Roll out mixture between two sheets of plastic wrap to 1/4-inch thick; remove plastic wrap and cut out biscuits with a 3 1/2-inch bone-shaped cookie cutter. Reroll scraps and continue cutting out biscuits.
  3. Space biscuits 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes until nicely browned and firm.
  4. Transfer biscuits to a wire rack. Turn off oven and place biscuits on wire rack in oven overnight. Remove from oven and store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

The rest of the Lima staff also got in on the action:

Andrew

Sammy

Sammy

This is Sammy, our 5-year old Yorkie. He’s not really the costume type and I couldn’t get anything else on him. Just getting these pics cost me 2 milk bones. I’ve had this candy corn tie forever, which apparently he didn’t mind wearing because it’s similar to a collar. He’s all set for a night on the town.

Matt

Minnie Bunnie

Minnie

Here’s our bunny Minnie! I mean our dog Minnie. Which I think most of you have already met in our “We Love Our Pets” post. She’s generally pretty easy going, so dressing her up in ridiculous costumes is loads of fun. The ashamed look on her face is the only reason we don’t dress her up more often. If she only knew how cute she was…

Steve

Reesey

Reesey

This year, Reesey wanted to have a little more bite with her bark, so we fashioned a tiger dog coat and booties. It was a tight fit, but I think she appreciated the ferocious twist on her typically laid-back personality! That is, until she shook the whole thing off.

You!

Do you have a photo of your pet all dressed up? Submit it in the comments below!

Fall Weekend Fun

Posted by Steve on October 12 at 09:26 am

battle creekI think everyone around here agrees with Matt that autumn is a great season–and the colors are beginning to change now! This weekend I was fortunate enough to enjoy the outdoors with some friends and I wanted to share some photos. We stayed at Fort Custer State Recreation Area and hiked, biked, and “geocached” (read on if you don’t know what that is!).

Battle Creek Linear Park

linear park ridingOne of the reasons we chose the location is the bike path in Battle Creek, MI called Linear Park. It’s a network of over 17 miles of scenic paths that travel through downtown, parks, residential areas, and along the river. After a few wrong turns and some unplanned detours, we rode about 26 miles (note to self: next time, don’t print the color-coded map in black & white). I was feeling it the next day!

Geo-what?

On Sunday morning we hit the trails again, this time on foot. Equipped with a GPS unit, we went geocaching, which is basically a mini-treasure hunt. The goal is to find a “cache” (a box with stuff in it) that was hidden there by someone before you. The GPS unit helps you find the cache, and sometimes there are hints when it’s hidden especially well. I’ve only done it twice, but both times I discovered new paths and places that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Eagle Lake at Fort Custer State Rec Area

Eagle Lake at Fort Custer State Rec Area

Next off on my fall checklist: pumpkin carving and candy! Keep your eyes on this blog in the next couple weeks… I have a hunch that there might be some treats (and maybe a trick or two). In the meantime, what’s keeping you busy this fall?

Autumn: My Favorite Season

Posted by Matt on September 28 at 12:37 pm
Autumn Sunset

Autumn Sunset

It’s that time of year again! Freshly harvested apples, changing colors of the leaves, apple cider, frosted pumpkin spice donuts, cider mills, corn mazes, caramel apples, weekends filled with football and nights filled with playoff baseball.

There’s also a smell in the air that I can’t quite put my finger on. Some would say it’s the smell of dying leaves, which is partly true, but I think it’s mostly nostalgia.

Some of my fondest memories take place in Autumn. My wife and I were married just last fall up in Mid-Michigan. It couldn’t have been a more picturesque weekend. The sun was shining, it was about 75 degrees, and the trees were dressed up in their full Autumn colors.

This year, for our first anniversary, we’re staying up in Northern Michigan for a long weekend of rest and relaxation. It’s a resort about 20 minutes south of Traverse City, the self-proclaimed cherry capital of the world! As cheesy as that sounds, it’s a neat little town that reminds me a lot of Ann Arbor. It has that “artisan” feel, but it’s quite a bit smaller and right on the water. Michigan’s wine country is just a drive down the Leelanau Peninsula and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is also close by.

In between naps, we might find time to play some golf or visit the newly renovated spa. Then, we’ll take the ski lift to the top of the mountain to listen to a couple of the live bands play and soak in the beautiful scenery. On a clear day, you can see the sunset on Lake Michigan! We’re certainly looking forward to creating more wonderful Autumn memories this year and all of the years to come.

Fall is most certainly my favorite time of the year. It seems to be a favorite among our Fresh Pickers, too! There are dozens of Fresh Picks inspired by the season. Just do a search for “Autumn” or “Fall” on the Search the Picks page to see what I mean. I’ve made a pick of my own called “Autumn Sunset” inspired by my vision of how I’ll be celebrating my first anniversary.

Do you have a favorite season? Let us know in the comments below.

Meet Andrew: The Newest “New Guy”

Posted by Andrew M on September 17 at 01:12 pm

Hi everybody! My name is Andrew and I am the newest “new guy” on the Lima Beads team. My official title is “Director of Marketing” but my real job (and passion) is making sure the Lima Beads community has the best customer experience possible each and every time you visit our site, interact with other beaders, or purchase and use our products.

We have so many good ideas to improve your experience and expand the Lima Beads community that Kevin decided it was time to make it an official function. Over the next few weeks we will be reviewing and prioritizing each of these ideas to continue to bring you the freshest products at the best prices and with the highest level of customer service that you have come to expect.

A Little More About Me

Andrew MSome of you may recognize me from infrequent appearances in The Garden or mentions on Kevin’s Twitter account. After working with Kevin, Steve, Matt and Ali on a few projects over the past year, it seemed like a natural fit to officially join the team.

When I am not hanging out in the new Lima Beads office, I enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, woodworking, reading, and biking. My newest hobby is cooking and my wife thinks I’m pretty good, or at least improving quickly. I still make the occasional mystery meal that didn’t quite turn out the way I would like. At my house, we call that “pizza night”!

My wife Elizabeth, our Yorkie Sammy, and I moved to Ann Arbor from Richmond, Virginia a couple of years ago when she enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!). We love it here but we are planning to move back home to Richmond in mid-December to finally settle down near family. At that point I will become the first “remote” Lima Beads team member but thanks to modern technology and frequent trips back to Ann Arbor, we won’t miss a beat.

I Need Your Help!

I will be the first to admit that I don’t have Ali’s detailed knowledge of each product (yet), Steve’s technical abilities, Matt’s design expertise, or Cathy’s ability to keep the orders flying out the door like greased lightning. But I do love to read and learn new things, which is where you come in.

Which books, websites, blogs, magazines, or online communities do you like? Where do you go for inspiration or motivation?

Feel free to leave a comment here or write on my Wire in The Garden. My door is always open and I am looking forward to getting to know you!

We Love Our Pets!

Posted by Matt on July 06 at 10:47 am

Here at Lima Beads, we love our pets and we’re always intrigued by the number of Lima customers with a reference to an animal in their screen name or profile photo. Pets are such an important part of our family and lives. You can meet the Lima team pets below and tell us about your pets (include photos!) in the comments.

Meet the Lima Pets

img_3577-copy

Matt

My wife and I have a Maltese, Minnie, and a dwarf hamster, Sebastian (we call him Sea Bass). Now that we have our own place, Minnie can come live with us again. We’re so happy to have her back. We would try to sneak her in to the apartment every once in a while, but every time we walked out the door, she would bark like crazy. She obviously didn’t understand the consequences! :)

As for Sea Bass, he loves to run on his wheel. So much so that the constant  squeaking was keeping us up at night. After a few applications of olive oil on the plastic axle, I think we’ve finally fixed it.

dakota

Kevin & Ali

Ali and I adopted Dakota from The Humane Society 7 years ago. They told us he was 2 years old, but in the first 6 months after we brought him home, he gained 25 pounds. We figure he was more like 6 months! He’s about 8 years old now and still acts like a puppy — endless energy, high-pitched bark, and all. We like to play fetch with the tennis ball to see who gets tired first. It’s always me…

This entry continues: Read the rest…

Part of your complete breakfast

Posted by Steve on June 29 at 11:47 am

We’ve talked before on the blog about the challenges of keeping the creative juices flowing (see my posts about beating creative block and being a night owl or an early riser). Everyone has a strategy, but one thing’s for sure: creativity is tough to come by when you’re tired, hungry, sluggish, or buried in the busyness of life. I’ve never been a big breakfast guy, but I’m experimenting with some morning meals to see what cooks up the best balance for my day.

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We Bought a House!

Posted by Matt on June 08 at 02:29 pm
Our New Home!

Our New Home!

I briefly mentioned this in my “Matt Needs Help Beading” post, but my wife and I have been house hunting for awhile. After 2 realtors, 50 viewings, and 4 offers, we’ve finally found our house! We close this Wednesday at 10 a.m.

We’re obviously really excited about it. It’s a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 1447 square foot colonial with a full basement. It’s nestled in a quiet cul-de-sac and the neighborhood seems really nice. It comes with all of the appliances and a gas fireplace. It’s way more of house than I ever would’ve imagined for being our first.

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What’s Popular?

Posted by Kevin on May 12 at 01:43 pm

The spring craft shows/fairs have begun. We’re in the midst of graduation and wedding season. There are lots of birthdays this time of year. It’s spring, everyone wants new jewelry! This is the time when the beading world is usually buzzing with activity, but it seems a little quiet this year.

My questions is — what are you seeing out there? Whether you’re selling at shows, having home jewelry parties or trunk shows, or getting requests for graduation jewelry, what sort of designs are people asking for? We try to keep up on the latest trends, but they’re all over the place this year. I think the economy is driving people to use supplies that are a bit less expensive like: brass stampings, recycled parts, and base metals. Ali tells me that the items below are being reported as “hot” for this summer, but doesn’t it seems like a huge variety? I’m not sure what to think.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Posted by Ali on May 08 at 10:02 am

At Lima Beads we know how important Mom’s role is. Mom made us who we are today. Mom is always going to give advice (whether or not we want it :) ). Mom unconditionally loves us. Mom makes a really great babysitter. Mom loves to be a Mom.

I though it might be fun to see Mother’s Day through the eyes of our team leaders at Lima Beads.

What is the most special thing you did for your Mom on Mother’s Day?

Ali: My Mom is big into family traditions.  Every year growing up my dad would make reservations for brunch at Gratzi at a table by the window.  She loves it there, but I think she really loved all of us there with her.  I usually start to get some subtle hints being dropped about  2 weeks before m-day like – “I just love longer chunky necklaces” or ” I was looking for something to wear with my new top and realized I didn’t have anything with pink, orange, blue, purple, and gold, hmmmmmmmmmmm”.  I guess subtly is not my Mom’s way…  So I typically make something special for my Mom as a thank you.  She gets the biggest smile on her face so I know she really loves it.

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Early Risers and Night Owls

Posted by Steve on April 30 at 08:52 am

Getting up in the morning has never been my strongest suit. It’s probably because I’ve been a night owl most of my life, trying to squeeze out every last living second of the day before succumbing to sleep. But over the years, out of necessity and curiosity, I’ve tried to transform into an early riser. So, I wanted to take a little poll from our creative audience: are you an early riser or a night owl?

Here are some observations I’ve made about myself on both sides of the coin…

Me as an early riser: Breakfast is necessary. Put the alarm 10 feet away. Routine is key. Clear your mind the night before. Have your clothes laid out and coffee ready to brew. Try not to snooze it (haha).

Me as a night owl: My best work is done at night. Snack, but don’t chow down. Drink water all night, not Mountain Dew. Waking up naturally is the best. Avoid infomercials, they are evil incarnate.

I’ve got my theories. Now let’s hear it from you: where do you lie (no pun intended)?

Vote for Matt!

Posted by Matt on April 20 at 02:32 pm

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I’ll admit, I never watched American Idol before this season, it’s just not the type of thing that would normally interest me. That all changed when I heard that a friend of mine from high school was going to be on the show. You might know Matt Giraud. He’s the good-looking, funny, soulful contestant on the show.

If you’re an American Idol fan, you know that he really needs our help. It was all a little confusing, but the judges used their save to keep him on the show last week after he was voted off by America. Last week’s performance was not his best, but when Matt is at his best, he is the best. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have any competition, but if he can remain consistent throughout the remainder of the show, he has a good chance of winning the whole thing.

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Shopping for Space

Posted by Kevin on March 23 at 02:28 pm

Ann Arbor is an old college town. Most of the buildings downtown (including ours) were built in the mid to late 1800s. This means: narrow hallways, steep staircases, no elevators, and lots of character. The character part is what keeps us downtown. Most companies that do any significant amount of shipping and receiving have moved into one of the industrial zones that are 4 to 5 miles outside of the city. Downtown is full of galleries, jewelry stores, musicians, coffee and book shops, students, and any kind of food you want. The Lima team thrives on this energy, so we’d like to stay downtown if we can.

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