Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rejoining the digital age

Like many of us (I'm assuming?), I have a complicated relationship with technology and how it scatters my attention and makes me incapable of focusing on anything important.  Seriously.  I guess you could say it is less "complicated" and more fraught.  Fraught fraught fraught.
 Take this morning for a perfect example.  Lately I have been getting up at 5:45-6a.m. (what a blessing a programmable coffee maker is, I would never be able to accomplish getting out of bed early without the knowledge that there is a hot cup of coffee waiting for me if I do) to read, write letters, and journal.  And I mostly just pretend that I'm alone.  (Does that make me a bad wife/mom?  I don't think so.  Sometimes you just need 20 feet of clear air.)  It has been so good for my mental health.  It's been fabulous.  But this morning I brought my iphone out to the living room with me, and what did I do?  I farted around on Facebook, Instagram, and the Etsy app.  I think I even opened Twitter.  I answered a couple of emails etc.  Did I read any poetry?  Did I write in my journal?  Of course not.  Why would I, when the heavy gravitronic pull of the black abyss that is my iphone was sitting on the arm of the couch, not 2ft from my head?  Who can focus on higher (HA!) things when the mental equivalent of a glass of cold beer is waiting with just the swipe of a finger?  Not me, apparently.  AND I DON'T EVEN HAVE THE ACTUAL INTERNET ENABLED ON MY PHONE.  (Mainly because I can't handle it responsibly and I have my husband lock it up under the restrictions with a passcode that I don't know.  I had to delete pinterest, because I figured out a way to access the internet through it.  It was like having cake in the house.  I couldn't not eat it.)

Why expose yourself to temptation like that, if you have such a problem, you might ask?  Because I have a business!  And a business needs tending and social promotion (I guess).  I was so reluctant to join any of these things, and now I have Instagram, Twitter, and a Facebook page for my business (all in a day).  Perhaps I'm revealing how (willfully) ignorant I am about this stuff?  Are there things I don't even know about that I should be doing instead?  Is Twitter old and musty?  I know I'm a bit late to the party, but has it already moved to another location?  Tell me, please, you people who are hipper than me!  Please.  Honestly, I don't really see the point of Twitter, but I'm following the herd and playing along.  I did follow a few things the other day that I think I will like, but will it be more enriching than a well chosen book?  (Do I sound like an old lady maiden aunt who has no sense of humor?  I like Vines, okay?  I like them!)  Maybe I shouldn't compare.  But there are opportunity costs, and every minute I spend perusing my Twitter feed is a minute that I'm not reading Mary Oliver.

But here I am, taking the plunge with all of this, and most of it is easiest to use on a smart phone rather than a computer.  I don't think you  can even really use instagram from the computer, correct me if I'm wrong.  So what am I to do?  Cultivate more self-control?  Set myself a time limit?  Put myself on a schedule?  AM I THE ONLY PERSON WHO HAS TROUBLE WITH THE INTERNET AND ASSOCIATED FLIM FLAMMERING APPS?  I can't be.  But no one talks about it.

Anyway.  I wanted to use this platform to tell everyone about my new instagramming, twittering, facebooking exploits.  I guess I shouldn't accompany it with a screed about how much I hate it all and how much it kills my brain.  But I'm so conflicted about it that I can't help myself.  This is how I feel about it:  necessary evil.  Not because it is evil, but because it is not great for me personally. It would be like getting a job in a pastry shop.  Nothing is wrong with pastries, quite the opposite.  But for me it would be a fat and sugar filled orgiastic disaster.

So here I am, reluctantly socially connecting:

Twitter: @JustineYaffa
Instagram: j.yaffa

It is all under my new business name, because I've decided to just quit dithering and go with it.  I might change my blog too, but when I tried it didn't redirect from the old name to the new.

All right, now for some pretty photos, if you managed to slog through all of the above.  I hope you just scrolled down as quickly as you could:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


When we found out we were having surprise twins almost two years ago we decided to go with the Ikea Sniglar cribs because of the reasonable price (two of everything!) and because of the nice clean look.  I felt that two cribs in the same room was overwhelming enough so I wanted something that was super plain.

Fast forward two years and one baby climbed up and then fell headfirst into the other crib (they were pushed together in an L shape).  I guess we were lucky she didn't climb out over the side that faced the floor!  Seeing that our days of easy bedtimes were at an end, we felt like we had to prevent further dangerous escape attempts by giving them a safe exit route.

The Sniglar has an option to take off one side, but there is no rail to keep a sleeping baby from rolling out.  After finding my daughter sleeping with her head on the crib mattress and the rest of her curled up on the floor.

So we decided to create a toddler style bed by creating a climb through side.  We bought a piece of wood (I believe it was a 1x12) and used a router saw to create  little curved openings.  (By the way, a router saw is an amazing device and not expensive!  I'm not sure why it took us this long to get one.) I sanded everything to make soft edges everywhere, slapped some white paint on it, and screwed it in to the crib sides. I love the way it looks and it works great to keep them from falling out.  But it doesn't do much to help them fall asleep easily, alas.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


I found these awesome wooden round frames at the local thrift shop, and I'm now working on portraits of my family to fill them.  I think they will look fun grouped on a wall, and my house is woefully lacking in artwork right now.


I'm really trying to incorporate other stone shapes into my repertoire, and this is my latest.  I love the soft rectangular shape.  The band is tapered and the stone is left open on the bottom.  Working with non-round stones is more complicated, I think that is why I have been dragging my feet about it for the last few years.  But I'm feeling more confident now, and I hope to do an emerald version of this soon.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fall on the horizon

Sometimes you get a job that you just really love.  I recently finished the ring pictured above, and it was GORGEOUS.  This stone was just so crisp and alive.  Beee-you-teee-full.  I know that it featured prominently in a happy engagement just last weekend.  I love thinking about something that I made with my own two hands being a part of such a happy event.  Without getting too hippy-dippy (although, I did grow up in Eugene), I feel like since I started this job in 2009 my life has become lighter and happier, and I think maybe a bit of all of those good feelings flowing into the universe are coming my way?  (Of course, the love between two people can also cause heartbreak, so maybe in a few years that will be coming my way as well.  Haha.  I hope not.)

I love these Chatham emeralds.  I have a cushion cut solitaire version in the works.  Just not sure if I should do it yellow or white gold?  Opinions?  My instinct is to go with 18kt yellow.  I think it would look amazing with the emerald green.  But I know I am in the minority with my love of yellow over white.

On the homefront, my sweet sweeties have been sick this week.  Nothing is snottier than a toddler (except maybe two, haha).  We recently got a bike trailer and we took them on a bike ride for the first time last weekend.  It was awesome.  Addy really loved it, Aven wasn't so sure but I think she will come around.  I'm really looking forward to pumpkins and apple cider, but I'm trying to pace myself.  It's still been pretty hot here some days, so I'm waiting for the really gloomy weather to set in before I bust out the fall traditions.  Glüg season is approaching!  Exciting!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Where did the summer go?

So, my favorite time of year has arrived.  The time of year when huge, horribly scary spiders invade the studio.  Have I mentioned how much I hate spiders?  I don't actually hate them hate them.  I just hate the ginormous ones that make me shiver and get goosebumps.  There was a gorgeous pink and white spider that was living in my roses.  It was lovely.  I didn't hate it at all.  But there was a monkey sized one living in this pile of wood that I moved off of the patio earlier this summer and I kid you not, it made the leaves rustle as it scuttled away from me.  I think I probably squeaked a little fear squeak.  Ugh ugh ugh.  And THOSE are the ones that invade.  Not the pink and white spiders.  The huger hairy monkey spiders that probably hunt the pugs.

Oh man.  I LOVE fabric.  (Almost as much as I hate giant pug eating spiders.)  All I want to do is quilt right now.  It sort of gets in the way of being a mom and doing my job.  My younger sister had a squeezable baby girl recently and the quilt above is the one I made for that little sweetie.

I promised myself that I would finish the squids quilts before they turned two.  I'm proud to say that I completed them both waaaaaay before the deadline.

The quilt I gave my sister for her birthday a few years ago.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  It will probably be a 50th birthday present.  I didn't really know what I was getting into with HST that are 3 inches square.  Man.

My first inside out quilt.  I really like the bindingless finish.  It was my first tumbler quilt too.  

A patio set we got off of craigslist and painted.  It was coated in a terrible gooey black paint and the seats were this hideous green and blue plaid plastic.  So I sanded it down and spray painted everything.  Even the seat "cushions".  I plan on making tie on quilted seat covers.

My wildflower patch!  They really turned out well.  But I didn't thin them, so now at the end of the season they look a little messy.  But they were glorious when everything was blooming.  I plan on planting them again and putting them in front of my studio as well.

Love these little flowers.  My favorite types of flowers the ones with skinny stems with flowers on top.

 And this looked lovely until spider mites (??) destroyed the plant with purple flowers.  :-(  I had to pull it out/.  The delphiniums still look good.  I think I might move them into the flower garden and use that planter for annuals.  Maybe zinnias?

 The flower garden really recovered nicely from the hail storm.  I think I've learned a lot and will be able to plan better for next year.

I got this futon cushion and made these pillows for the squids room to make a little reading nook.  They're all about it.  I also plan on stenciling the alphabet above the "couch"

Aven loves clipping clips, so I bought a grip of plastic clips and made this little stuffed toy.  It was my first attempt at sewing anything besides quilts and napkins.  I think it turned out well, considering.

Haha.  The babies hiding behind the couch, communing with Pandora on the ipad.  It's locked, so they can't get into it to play, but they like watching the album covers change.

Where is the jewelry related content you ask?  Coming?  Maybe.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I think one of my favorite things

is making jewelry for people I know.  I just finished a set today for a girl I knew back in my Navy days.  It was super fun to create wedding rings and to actually know the person it was going to.  I think I've only done it once before and that was awesome too.

I can hear my babies squeaking at each other over the baby monitor, so I have to run inside.  But best wishes to you, Michelle!  I know you read my blog, so this will give you a sneak peak at what is coming in the mail. :-)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

I am so excited!

I've been dying to start using other shapes of stones, but I wasn't feeling like my brain was up to it until lately (double baby brain!).  But I finally gave it a go the other day and this is my second practice stone.  The first turned out okay too, but this one is better.  I think because I took the time to solder it to a band so I could hold it better.  The other one I just tried to hold the setting.  Why would I be that stupid?  I know that the key to making nice jewelry is holding something securely.  So I don't know why I tortured myself with a jiggly loose setting, rather than taking the 2 minutes to create a "handle".  LAZY.   (Even if it is wonky as all get out....look at the slant the setting has to the band.  LOL!  But that wasn't the point, I just needed something to clamp.)  I have a couple of pear shaped cz and I'm going to get some princess and marquis shaped stones and just practice my little heart out.  I think the real test will be to carve the settings myself.  I'm getting much more confident lately, so we'll see.  But I'm pleased as punch with the setting job I did!  Yay!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Although my first foray into jewelry making in middle school was beaded necklaces (I was very fond of Czech glass beads....I think I still have a necklace stashed away somewhere, I'll get a photo), my true love was earrings.  I can still remember the back of my mom's bedroom door, covered in cool earrings.  She had this wooden rack with tiny holes that you put the ear wires through.  Full, just full, of awesome earrings.  She would buy some of them at the Saturday Market.  Which, if you are from Eugene or Portland, you know is a craft market held outdoors during the warmer months.  The Eugene one is better than the Portland one, which sort of sucks.  Anyhoo.  I think my favorites were the beaded ones, with quills.  (I want a pair and I've been looking on Etsy.)

And I've been a busy little bee myself, in the earring making department, and I've added a few new pieces to my shop.  And I'm keeping the prototypes!

Summer is in full swing here.  It's been hot!  My new cucumbers are doing really well, after I replanted because of that epic hail storm.  We ate the first artichoke from the plants I put in this year!

And of course, baby sweeties:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I would love a set of these.

(But in yellow gold!)

And one of these.  haha.

And one of these!  Probably the only one of the above that I am likely to get. (At least for 18 years.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Nature: "I hate you, pitiful human scum"

So, haha, I blogged about how nice my gardening was coming this year, and then that same afternoon, about 2 hours after I hit publish, this happened:

 This was a coreopsis that I had sown from seed.

 The pitiful remnants of my japanese cucumber plants.

 This was a mint plant.

 And my lovely hostas.  Shredded and ragged.  And I now have to live
with them like that for the rest of the season.  Nothing is more unattractive than 
raggedy hostas.

Plant Armageddon aftermath.

:(    :\    :[  :{  :O!!!!!!!

I've never seen a hail storm like it.  Our gardens are totally effed.  Man.  My heart just broke.  You should see our tomato and fava plants.  Just destroyed. My artichokes are shredded like the hostas.  I guess I will just have to wait and see what will survive.  Having a nice garden this year is pretty much out now, unless we want to buy a bunch of expensive starts, which, needless to say, I don't.  My blueberries look okay, and the three fruit trees we put in this spring look like they pulled through.  The apple was the worst, but the fig and plum look okay.

I'm a little down right now, but soldiering on.  


Monday, June 16, 2014

One step, two steps, three steps, four

Man, sometimes I get so frustrated at the pace of my life.  It seems so creeping, crawling slow.  I think I want to live in fast forward.  And then I think, what am I rushing towards?  Death?  I'm really trying to slow down and enjoy the ride, rather than being rushed and goal oriented.  I think I'm too goal oriented and it makes me unhappy sometimes.

I've been really trying to get new designs produced, but with about 18hrs of so or work time a week, it is hard to.  I have two pairs of earrings I need to photograph and add, but I can't seem to get it done.  (Maybe because I wear them too much?  haha.  I also have a necklace with a lovely pink rose cut sapphire that is languishing away in my safe.)

These are two new designs that I've had molded and will cast in the next couple of weeks. I'm thinking palladium for the square/cushion, and 18kt yellow for the round.  I think I'm going to get a highly included but colorless diamond for the round and see what I think of that.  Once it has been cast I can carve a band to fit the curves.

New around the house:

 Well, these aren't new.  But they are really looking great this year.  I wish hostas didn't die back in the fall.  If they were evergreen I would have them everywhere around the place.

So my little flower garden is actually coming along pretty good.  It isn't as full as I would like, but I think that will take several years.  So I'm working on enjoying it as it is.  After all, when it is all full and "finished" where will I be then?  I do think that the joy of projects is in the doing, I just need to not want to do it fast(er).

Finally! We painted the door! I had been wanting to paint it forever.  I love the way the red looks.  Still need to work on the landscaping, but the red was really such a huge improvement.  The door is old. Probably original to the house (1930ish), and it looked pretty beat.

I have more "content", but I think I will save it for another post, lest my few readers be overwhelmed with photos of gardening and home improvement projects.  I finished a lovely (!!!) oval diamond ring that I want to share as well, so maybe later this week.