Kira Joya’s Blog

Healthy and Wealthy

Posted in Holistic Healing, SAHM, WAHM by Alissia on May 9, 2009

Busy! Busy! Busy! That describes my life for the next month. The craziness of summer has begun already. May started off with a bang and it’s just going to keep going and going. Last week was spent at my sister’s house. We had the kids’ pictures taken and Kira and I had an appointment with a holistic practitioner that my sister sees regularly. She muscle tests for food allergies, environmental allergies, and a wide array of other conditions. She also muscle tests to see what holistic healing methods your body needs at that time (essential oils, vitamins, minerals, homeopathics, etc.) I had my first session with her and we discovered that one of my main issues is a full body yeast overgrowth. I also have allergies to quite a few foods…a lot of them are nuts. She prescribed for me a custom set of points (KI Method or Jin Shin Jytsu) to do everyday for 10 days. She also prescribed two homeopathic remedies (Tobacco Detox and Pain), some flax seed oil, some zinc, some Grapefruit Seed Extract, and some essential oils (Pink Grapefruit and Rose Geranium). To alleviate the food allergies, she gave me a recipe for making a homeopathic remedy for each food. (If anyone wants this remedy, please comment and I will send it to you…it’s definitely worth a try.) Hopefully, after I follow all of her suggestions, I will be yeast and allergy free and on my way to perfect health. I’m feeling very optimistic about this, especially since others have had such a positive experience when working with her. I will keep you posted on the results.

Anyway, this weekend we’re off to Atlantic City and then to my in laws at the Jersey Shore for Mother’s Day, next weekend back to my sister’s house for my niece’s second birthday party. Can I keep up? I think I can, I think I can…Actually, I’m pretty sure I can keep up and maybe I can even win a little money in the process. I may not have any new jewelry pieces for a few weeks and I may struggle to find the time to update my blog, but I think I will be OK. As far as I’m concerned, these are good problems to have. I’m excited to see the ocean again…it’s been awhile! It’s so calming and awe inspiring to be at the shore. I love it! It’s one of my favorite places to be. Maybe I will have some good photos to share when I return. Well, I’m off to start the whirlwind…

www.condron.us

Backyard Photos

Posted in Flowers, photography, WAHM by Alissia on April 30, 2009
Little Toad We Found Hopping Around our Backyard

Little Toad We Found Hopping Around our Backyard

I love taking pictures. We saw this little toad in our backyard and I ran inside to get my camera. It was the time of day where the lighting was perfect. Is it a little silly? I get excited when I see an animal that I don’t see very often. I was so close to him and he just let me take his picture. There were a few times where he decided he needed to get away from the lady with the camera. He started hopping and startled me. Through the lens, the toad looks a little bigger and, for some reason, it was more unexpected.

Dogwood in my backyard

Dogwood in my backyard

I so love springtime. I really do look forward to this time of the year…the month or so where the trees are all different colors and covered in flower blooms. We are lucky enough to have two Dogwood trees in our new backyard… and I’m lucky enough to not be allergic to springtime. I don’t even know what I would do if I were allergic to flowers and pollen…I love them so. I guess I would just deal with it.

Photoshop adjusted Dogwood

Photoshop adjusted Dogwood

I am trying to practice photographing flowers and blurring the background. I seem to do alright, but the lighting never seems to be quite right. I always have to play with it a little bit in Photoshop. (I’m trying to learn my way around…there’s so much to learn!) Here I decided to play with color a lot. It’s the same photo as above, but cropped a little more and the color is exaggerated for a dramatic effect. This version is pretty too, but in a more retro way. I usually prefer the more natural photos, especially of flowers.

I am slowly learning…maybe I should take a digital photography class, that might help. Anyway, I just wanted to share these photos of spring. Since it’s gone in a flash (as evidenced by the high temps of this past weekend) it’s nice to capture it on camera. It’s possible you may see me again later today, I may try to do 2 posts…I guess we’ll see what the day brings. A day in the life of a work-at-home mom…things are always changing and surprising me.

www.condron.us

A Hard Days Night…

Posted in Flowers, Gardening, Kira by Alissia on April 27, 2009
Colombines

Colombines

Well, it hasn’t really been a hard days night, but I have been working like a dog. I planted one of my flower gardens this weekend. I planted peonies, colombines, lilies, and a butterfly bush. Gardening really is hard work, but it hurts so good! I love it! There is nothing like that feeling of being tired from actual physical labor. You know, the kind of tired that you felt when you were a kid in the summertime…when you ran and ran and ran and then finally collapsed in your bed against your will at the end of the day.

More Colombines

More Colombines

When I was done planting, I decided that I wanted to take some pictures to share on my blog. The photos of the whole garden were a bit anticlimactic since most of the flowers are not in bloom yet. I decided to take a few close-ups of the Colombines. So gorgeous, aren’t they? I love that deep blue! I’m a sucker for some blue flowers.

I’m not going to write any mind-blowing composition this evening. Even my hair is tired. I just wanted to share some pictures of my weekend. It’s amazing how the sun and warm weather can infuse joy into your life…I just want to express my gratitude to mother nature and say bring on the summer!

Kira...talking as usual.

Kira...talking as usual.


Kira's muddy shoe...I had just polished them, UGH!!

Kira's muddy shoe...I had just polished them, UGH!!

www.condron.us

Product Photography

Posted in beads, Jewelry, photography, WAHM by Alissia on April 21, 2009

When I started my website and business, I don’t think I really knew how multi-faceted I was going to have to be. I read books and researched things online, but you never really know until you just jump in. I know that I had no idea how time consuming it was going to be to photograph and describe all of my products. I have a pretty small inventory at this point and, even so, I have spent countless hours agonizing over the quality of the pictures and trying to get the wording just so.

Yesterday, I spent a good two hours, if not more, trying to get pictures for two recently finished necklaces. (I showed photos of components in previous posts.) Of course, lighting was the biggest issue. I have tried the light box and don’t really like it, I don’t know why. I think I find it too cumbersome. It’s not as easy to get in there and get the shot I need. For jewelry shots, if you want your whole piece to be in focus, you really have to be directly overhead. Anyway, I have a room in my house with tons of windows. I usually take my pictures in there. I definitely use the tripod. I have tried before to get away without using it and my pictures suffered.

This is what I do:

1) I take a ton of pictures…I think I took 150 photos of two necklaces yesterday.

2) I use varying shutter speeds to see which one brings the best light. For each product and each background I take at least 20 shots, varying the lighting slightly each time. It’s amazing how one shot can be fine and on the very next setting it will be either too light or too dark. I also make sure that I still take photos well into a range that I might think will be too dark or too light. That little screen on your camera is not a really accurate way to tell what the shot will look like on the computer. I find, with jewelry anyway, that the brighter the shot, the better the piece looks. Usually it’s the shot that I think is going to be way too bright that I end up using.

3) I use software to adjust things a bit and crop photos. You can use Photoshop, Gimp (which is free), or any other image editor you choose.

4) I research things if I am having a hard time. I found this page on Thimble Arts and Crafts Blog to be helpful. She gives links to some product photography tutorials and tips. I was also happy to discover that Darren, the man who is running the 31 Days to a Better Blog Challenge has a website called Digital Photography School. It seems to be a wealth of information. I haven’t explored it fully yet, but I plan to.

It can be really frustrating to take 150 photos and not have a single one that you feel is usable. To that, I have to say…practice makes perfect…well, maybe not quite. I actually really enjoy the process. I’m learning more about my camera and photography in general, which I have always liked. I am by no means an authority on the subject, I am just sharing what has worked for me so far. I am really just learning. I could go over and over my photos and still feel I need to take more shots, because something’s not right…there comes a point where I just let go and say OK, good enough!

These are the best of the photos I took yesterday (click on them to enlarge them.) Any constructive comments or suggestions are entirely welcome!

www.condron.us

Try and Try Again

Posted in beads, Jewelry, Kira, SAHM, WAHM by Alissia on April 18, 2009

Earlier today I spent an unreasonable amount of time trying to find a theme that I liked for this blog. If the same person were to have checked this page 20 times today, they probably wouldn’t have seen the same format more than once. My vast numbers of followers must have been really confused. I found myself not liking any of the WordPress pre-made templates. There was something wrong with each of them. If you choose a custom header, then you can’t choose custom colors or lettering and some of them have just a title, no subtitle….ARGH!! It sucks to be such a perfectionist sometimes. I guess I will just have to learn some coding so I can do it myself. I settled on this theme, because I could use one of my photos as a header. However, I could not change the brown lettering and that bugs me!! Oh well, I think I will deal with it until I am a little more comfortable with the whole blogging realm….then I will do the whole custom thing.

Pieces of my latest creation

Pieces of my latest creation

I feel like I spend more time on the computer talking about making jewelry and finding out how to market it than I do actually making it. Here are the pieces of a necklace I intended to start on tonight. Now, I find myself writing on my blog instead. The beads are multicolored tourmaline and the squares and cubes are Hill Tribe silver. I think it’s going to be awesome when it’s done. The thing is, it was already done once. I hadn’t finished it totally…it still needed to have the clasp put on and the beads were not secured in place. One little 4-year-old hand swooped in and a little voice said, “Mommy, what’s this?” I heard lots of little tiny pings as each bead hit the floor. Nooooooo! Oh well, gotta start over. Look at this face, it’s hard to be mad at this face…well, sometimes not so hard. You know what I mean. Tomorrow I will make this necklace and I will post a photo of the finished piece.

Kira

Kira

One more thing to share before I go…I’m so excited!!! I signed up for the wire wrapping class that I talked about in a previous post. Here’s a link to the piece we are going to make in the Beadfest Wire class. The class itself was very reasonably priced…however, all of the equipment to make the piece seems to add up rather quickly. I just chalk it up to the betterment of my skills. If I am to grow as an artist, I need to learn new techniques. I will post photos of my bangle after the class…I hope it looks at least somewhat like the one in the picture. I’m so ready…I wish it was tomorrow. Sadly, I have to wait two weeks, but I have plenty to keep me occupied in the meantime.

So long, farewell, alvedersain, good night! (and yes, I like show tunes!)

www.condron.us

Tagged with: , , , , ,

10 Most Beautiful Semi-Precious Stones

Posted in beads, Jewelry, Semi-precious stones, WAHM by Alissia on April 10, 2009

Alright, the title is a little bit deceiving.  This is actually a list of ten of my favorite semi-precious stones.  There are so many beautiful ones that I had a hard time choosing ten.  I wanted to pick  some stones that I actually had on hand so that I could take pictures and make things a little bit more interesting.  There are some things you need to see to appreciate.

Larimar

Larimar

1. The first one is Larimar. Isn’t it beautiful? I love it!! It truly is one of my favorites. I saw it for the first time when I was on my honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. I saw it in all the shops and needed to find out what it was, so I asked. Unfortunately, Larimar is not widely available, it is only mined in the Dominican Republic. When I returned home I did a little bit of research to see if I could find some beads and I couldn’t at that time. I will try again…I think whatever piece of jewelry I would make from Larimar would be amazing!

Quartz

Quartz

2. Quartz. Why Quartz? It’s so simple…it’s readily available. Something about it is very intriguing…maybe it’s because quartz has so many uses (Quartz crystals are used for healing…it is used in clocks, TVs, radios and beyond.) Look at the photo, you can almost see yourself in it. It’s gorgeous and, from a jewelry makers perspective, it’s very versatile.

Tourmaline

Tourmaline

3. Oooh! Tourmaline. I love tourmaline too! I guess I love them all. Tourmaline has a wide array of colors, I think that’s why I like it so much. My favorite are the Watermelon Tourmaline slices. They do resemble little stone pieces of watermelon…pink on the inside and a rim of green on the outside. There is a lot of pink and green in the regular tourmaline pictured here too. One of my favorite color combos!

Sunstone

Sunstone

4. Sunstone. I really enjoy stones that sparkle. Sunstone has this beautiful warm orange color and it shimmers in the light. It’s difficult to catch that shimmer on camera if you are an amateur photographer like I am…but, trust me, it’s there.

Kyanite

Kyanite

5. Kyanite. Here it is again, the sparkle…this time in blue. There are a few different shades of blue contained within this stone. It’s translucent with an almost pearly shimmer in places. As well as being really beautiful, this stone is also know to have healing properties…some healers use it for chakra balancing. It’s gorgeous and celestial and I will use it in my jewelry pieces time and time again.

Amethyst

Amethyst

6. Amethyst. What girl doesn’t love amethyst? When I shop for materials for a work in progress, I repeatedly find myself in the amethyst section. It’s purple and luminous and delightful!

Apatite

Apatite

7.Apatite. Just look at this color! Doesn’t it make you want to dive in the ocean? I’m calling the color ocean teal and I think that describes it perfectly!

Citrine

Citrine

8. Citrine. For me, Citrine represents sunshine…it’s that crisp, crystal clear yellow. This is another stone that I use quite often and wear quite often. It seems to brighten my day when I put it on. In fact, I have it on right now!

Fluorite

Fluorite

9. Fluorite. The color variety in fluorite is amazing….from pale green to light blue to deep purple. This really is another of my favorite stones to work with. It seems like, no matter what piece I am working on, it turns out beautifully.

Turquoise

Turquoise

10. Turquoise. It whisks you away to the southwest. Once again, the color is fantastic! I myself prefer the natural turquoise colors, but you can also get some really pretty dyed turquoise. A lot of the artists who work with turquoise also do some really breathtaking silver work, which appeals to me. That’s something that I strive for.

Well, there you have it…10 of the most beautiful semi-precious stones….according to me. I could keep going and going. It is amazing to me that these stones all occur in nature in all of these different colors and textures. I really enjoy putting them together in wearable artwork and learning about the stones as I go. I access my creative side and my scientific side at the same time as I build my business. I should be pretty well-rounded, shouldn’t I?

www.condron.us

Mama Mia

Posted in Jewelry, WAHM by Alissia on April 8, 2009

Multitasking would be the one word that described this day. I know I have a lot to do over the next few days, so last night before I went to bed I made myself a schedule. I really just wanted a guideline for the week…a way to manage my time effectively. All morning Kira and I were no more than 10 or so minutes off my schedule. By the time late afternoon hit, I was exhausted. I had already done so much. We had played, been to a couple of stores in preparation for the holiday weekend, boiled eggs for the preschool spring party…and the list goes on.

That’s when I realized…I have to be flexible or I might break. It’s a juggling act as any mom knows. First of all, I want to make sure that Kira is getting enough quality time with me. I’m home with her most of the time, so you wouldn’t think that would be difficult. The more I throw myself into learning how to run this business, the more I struggle with time management. I’m sure this is something that any new business owner/mom struggles with. I have to learn to balance all of my hats…the mommy hat, the artist hat, the business hat, the cook hat, etc…you get the picture.

Over the last few weeks as I have returned to focusing on the business with renewed vigor…I have found that my jewelry projects seem to fall through the cracks. There has to be a balance and I know I will find it, I just haven’t yet. One day there will be enough of me to go around…hopefully one day soon.

Tagged with: ,

In a Nutshell

Posted in Jewelry, WAHM by Alissia on April 6, 2009

So the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge starts today. If I get a little extra time (who am I kidding?) I may have 2 blog entries today. The first task is to write an elevator pitch for your blog. Oh my! Elevator pitch? Overview for a product, service, or project…in 100 to 150 words.

I intend my blog to be an honest account of what’s going on in my life on a daily basis. I think I will try to focus on the challenges of beginning a new crafting business. I plan to share any info that I uncover with anyone who needs it…probably people like me who are trying to create a business from their art. I also plan to take photos of anything I am working on, phase by phase. Trust me, there are phases! I often tear pieces apart 2 and 3 times before I decide they are right.

Although I do plan to focus on starting a new business, I don’t plan to stop there with the blog. I want my readers and potential customers to see who I am and where I’m coming from. I’m a mom and the work I do is from home…there are specific challenges and benefits that come with that. There are plenty of other people out there who can relate to that. Besides, there are too many interesting things to write about. It’s spring…I’m starting my first vegetable garden. I’m sure people are waiting with bated breath to hear how that turns out. I have a four year old who constantly has funny things coming out of her mouth…I want to share it. I plan to take the journey to becoming a certified yoga instructor…that has to be interesting, right?

Ok, so that’s not 100 to 150 words is it? I guess I need to condense all of that into a few lines. My blog is about my life. It will detail the struggles and joys of being a work-at-home mom who is starting a new business. I intend to give readers insight into who I am as a person, not just a business person. If you choose to read my blog you can follow my triumphs, my bloopers, and hopefully some funny stories along the way. I think that’s it…my elevator pitch. It’s not 100 words, but it’s pretty good, I think. Assignment 1 down and only 30 more to go.

Tagged with: , ,

Sunshiny Day

Posted in Gardening, Jewelry, WAHM by Alissia on April 3, 2009

I am a SAHM who happens to be working on starting a business…I guess that makes me a WAHM.  Mostly I’m a mom and I love it…I try to be a mom first and then fit the work in where I can.  It doesn’t always work out that way, but I’m sure anyone who is a WAHM can relate.  Kira doesn’t have preschool on Thursdays, so I don’t usually get a whole lot of work done.  I try to designate time for Kira and time for work, but, once again, it doesn’t always work out that way.  I took some photos of her playing this morning…I was supposed to be playing too, but she looked so cute!

Since I had my camera out, I took some photos of a few of the things I am working on.  The seedlings are very exciting to me!!  I am a plant and flower lover and we just moved into a house where we have the space to plant…so I plan to take full advantage.  Kira helped me plant the vegetables and flowers and was just as happy as I was to see the little seedlings emerge.  It’s exciting to me because I love it and it is the first time I have planted my own seeds and watched them grow into little plants.   I believe part of my soul is green and I want my daughter to feel the same way.  She’s only 4, but she seems to love it as much as I do.  We are going to try composting…I figured that’s the next step in greening my life.  It’s great for the garden and less waste in the landfills.  I gotta say, because of my love of flowers, spring is my favorite time of year.  I just love to see the magnolia trees in bloom!!!  If all of my seeds turn into plants…I will have more flowers and veggies than I know what to do with.  I guess that will mean my friends and family are in luck!

Oh yeah, the beads…the last photo is of the beads that I bought yesterday that will soon become a piece of jewelry to put on my website.  Some high quality citrine (which I love…there’s something really soothing and happy about it), some dyed turquoise (orange and red colors that go really well with the citrine), and some pretty Thai Hill Tribe silver wheel spacers.  Not quite sure exactly what it will be, but I will post a photo when I’m done…or you could check my website…there will be a photo there too.   I think I will go work on it right now…be back tomorrow…

Tagged with: , , ,

Whew!

Posted in Uncategorized by Alissia on April 1, 2009

Nothing like trying to sound intelligent at the end of a long day.  It was a good day…very active.   The weather was beautiful, which definitely helps.  Nothing monumental today.  I figured out how to link my blog and my website, which was very exciting…but only to me.   The small victories count too.  I also decided that I’m going to take some kind of metalsmithing or wire wrapping class at an upcoming Bead Fest.  I need to expand my skills and I love the look of the swirly wire wrapped bracelets and rings…I have been thinking of taking a silversmithing class for awhile.  So we’ll see how that goes…the Bead Fest is a month away, so I have a little while to wait.  I will post some pics of the finished product in May.

One funny personal story that keeps running over in my head…I just want to write it down before I forget.  This came from the mouth of my four-year-old daughter, Kira.  On Sunday I was reading her a story before nap time and she started looking at her arm.  I asked her what she was looking at.  She said, ” I have hair growing through me.”  I explained that we all have hair growing all over our bodies.  She said,”Yeah, someday we’ll be all Daddy’s.”  Maybe not quite as funny in print, but I laughed my butt off.  Those little four-year-old heads are always thinking!

That’s all the words I can press for today.  Good night!