Friday, May 29, 2009

I'm a Fan of...

To say that Judy Ebert, jewelry designer and owner of jbEbert on Etsy, makes jewelry is like saying that Yo-Yo Ma plays the cello. It is true, but doesn't express the level of artistry that is deserved when introducing an artist of their caliber. Using sterling silver, gold, semi-precious stones and lots of luscious color and creativity, Judy creates pieces of art that you happen to be able to wear. Like a cornucopia of fruit, her work reminds me of how visually satisfying a beautiful piece of jewelry can be. One needs no other focal point to look "finished".

In addition to being an extraordinary talent, Judy is also a philanthropist, donating 5% of the retail cost of each of her items to the very worthy organization Heifer International.

You can find jbEbert on Etsy, Trunkt, 1000Markets, and Artfire. Follow her on Twitter and become a fan of hers on Facebook. Bookmark her blog, too!

Her jewelry can also be found "in person” in Horseheads, NY (just outside Elmira) at Glamour and Glow Boutique.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tuft Love

My husband took these photos at a nearby park and I have colorized them and created these "Tuft Love" blank note cards, which are perfect for any occasion and make a great gift, too!

These are one of my favorite sets and remind me of how beautiful the most mundane thing can be if we look at it
through a different set of eyes.

These and all of our Made-U-Look cards are made of sturdy card stock with a premium photo paper inkjet print mounted on handmade paper, and packaged professionally.

Thanks for visiting my Made-U-Look Monday blog!

Check out more of our cards and photos at


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Beauty in a Slaughterhouse

My husband, Brett Rickaby, recently returned from Allentown, Pennsylvania where he shot a film (a horror movie called "Bereavement" in which my handsome, spiritual, kind, compassionate, and loving husband plays a scary-looking psychopathic killer!) and brought with him some photographs he took in and around the slaughterhouse that I just had to share with everyone!

Don't be surprised if they end up on future Made-U-Look or Kaleidoscope cards!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My First Love

Ballet has been part of my life since I was 3 and my mother enrolled this dancing toddler in a ballet/tap/acrobatics combo class. I hated ballet then. Thought it was so boring. Couldn't wait for tap and acrobatics, though!

When we moved the studio owner really instilled a love for dance and ballet that was further developed by several excellent teachers I had over the course of the next several years. We moved again to another state, but lucky us! An excellent school was only about 17 miles away--and we won the (figurative) lottery.

Our teacher --(by this time my siblings were involved as well)--has become one of the most respected in the country and turns out more professional ballet dancers than any other small school of which I've heard. It was assumed by the students that there was a career in ballet ahead, and although not everyone made it, a large percentage of us did. Myself and my two sisters all became professional ballet dancers in major companies. (Our brother became a "normal" person! He went on to college and became a school teacher, for which we are all very proud!)

I've been retired for several years and continue to be involved through teaching, as does my youngest sister. Our other sister, though, continued to dance until last weekend and after a long and very illustrious career had the dream-come-true final performance to a packed house with bouquets being thrown onstage, the audience yelling "Brava!" and many, many bows and curtain calls. Words cannot express how emotional this occasion was for our family to whom the theatre has been a second home. Who knows if any of our children will continue the family tradition? Many would not wish the instability on their children, but it was a very good life for the three of us. We LOVED what
we did. We still do. It was and will always be a love affair we have
with ballet, dance, and all of the performing arts.

For our family it is the end of an era. But, for all of us the love of the art of ballet will last forever and between the three of us, we
will be able to spread a little of it around when we teach.

So to all of those who helped to instill this love I say "Brava!"

Check out more of our cards and photos at


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Planning Ahead

It occurred to my husband the other day that people don't think about buying cards until they need one. That makes it difficult for folks like me who sell cards on the internet...until they figure out some way for them to materialize out of the computer monitor, anyway. Most people would rather spend their money on a memorable card (maybe it could even double as a gift if it is frame-able), but when the card has to be in the mail tomorrow and they have to get it NOW, where do they go? Hallmark? Rite Aid? Aisle 7 at Safeway? And they plunk down $3.00 to $6.00 on a pre-printed mass produced amusing or sentimental or silly card, sign their name, and off it goes to the intended recipient. Then they see a beautiful card days or weeks later and think "I wish I'd find cards like these when I need them!"

Just think of how much less stressful it would be if you had a box or a drawer where the cards you've been buying and saving for the right occasion where stored? How nice would it be if your sister or your friend or you neighbor said "I LOVE that card? I've never seen anything like it---where did you find it?" Or "I'm going to frame it and put it up--it's so beautiful!"

I've done some legwork and am happy to share some suggestions for your "wanna-be" card drawer! Check them out and stock up now if you find some that you like so that the next special occasion or the next time you need to send a note of thanks you have to look no further than your drawer!

Unisex Baby Elephant Card by hairchick on Etsy is one example of many adorable occasion cards carried in the shop.

Sweethearts Notecards: from paintingallnightstudios on Etsy has beautiful art print cards (and other beautiful art work!).

Joyce Kilmer Floral note card set and other beautiful fine art photography notecards can be found in Orange Cat Art's Etsy shop as well as on their web site.

Bumble and Bee Greetings creates delightful original watercolor note cards with a variety of subjects that appeal to many tastes.

DreamGallery's Etsy shop carries beautiful reproduced acrylic paintings on note cards with vibrant colors, such as this beautiful card called Catching the Last Rays.

Allison Strine's cards are colorful, whimsical, and fun!

Etsy's The Poppy Tree also creates cards reproduced from whimsical paintings.

My own shop on Etsy, Made by SwirlyGirl, carries several different lines of cards using enhanced digital photography.

I haven't even begun to unearth all the wonderful artists out there pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into their creative outlets and selling their wares on sites such as Etsy, Artfire, and Artisans Market, to name a few. Do a search of your own and use search words that apply to the theme or occasion of the cards that you are looking for and start filling up that drawer! And don't forget--- note card sets make great gifts!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Branching Out Matted and Framed Photo

Trees are a favorite subject mine when my camera is in my hand. I love to look at them against the backdrop of the ever-changing sky and watch the way the wind catches the leaves and moves the branches. And I love looking at the bark of a tree, imagining an entire universe of life that I cannot see happening right there in front of my eyes....

This signed and dated print of "Branching Out", a digitally enhanced photo of a tree silhouetted against a brooding sky is professionally framed with double matting and set in a vintage window frame (with new glass) adorned with original the hardware.

The wood on the frame has been stripped of it's original paint and lovingly coated with beeswax for a rich natural luster that brings out the wood's patina and grain. (Done by my very own loving, talented, and patient husband!)
Ready to hang on your wall!

Just listed today!
Check out more of our cards and photos at


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Life in the Fast Lane

Normally I do not live in the fast lane. I am not referring to the route I travel to and from my daughters' school or to the ballet studio at which I teach---I am ALWAYS looking for the fast lane when I'm driving! But, in life I generally like to take it slow and steady. I might get inspired and start something with a speed that would make my metaphorical tires spin, but it doesn't take long for me to slow down to a pace that hardly resembles a mover and a shaker.

That may be the reason my head is spinning these last few weeks. I have been on the computer for hours at a time trying to catch up with everyone (see blog entry #1) and every time I look away for even a minute, there's more to read, more to learn, more people to follow, more tips to consider, more advice to incorporate, more tweets to tweet, more statuses to update, more....more...more....

My brain hurts from force-feeding it and my body is beginning to petrify in it's most frequently held position: one leg crossed over the other, forearms perpendicular to body, wrists close together with fingers bent and held poised or right hand in a gripped position, back hunched over to get a clear view of the screen, eyes squinting and chin thrust forward to clearly see without glasses, because with them I need to sit uncomfortably far from the computer.

I'm learning so much from so many and with every wonderful piece of information is a link that can take me further away from the original source of this info, like a maze that twists and turns so that what I began to read and where I navigate to are not even on the same subject. And I don't want to forget the passwords and usernames I need to keep straight to enter the various forums that will take me on these journeys all over the virtual universe!

I have yet to stumble upon advice on how to fit this all in on a day when the kids need to be driven to school, the dog needs her exercise, the bank, post office, and office supply store need to be visited, I have to stop for gas, shop at three different grocery stores to get the best prices, and pick up the kids with snacks at the ready by 3:15, rush them to dance class and then home to dinner (which must be made yet), before sending them to bed. On the days I don't have to run errands it's easy as I've abandoned all other forms of housekeeping---except for laundry, because I won't have my children going to school without underwear.

And yet, do you know what? I'm having so much fun learning about all of this stuff! Sure there are moments that I feel overwhelmed and absolutely positive that I'm in way over my technological head--it's been a long time since I attended school! But I remember that there was a time when learning lots of new things didn't make my brain hurt and am hoping that I will be getting into the swing of it and Advil will no longer need to be my best friend. And I am meeting some new and very smart and interesting people through all of the various forums I am checking into constantly, some of whom I would already call mentors.

I guess that I'm realizing that as nice as it is to ponder, take my time, saunter through the grocery store and through my life, it's not very stimulating when I'm not doing something to expand my mind and/or my spirit. (My body is expanding, too, however, with all this sitting, so that's an area I'm going to have to address quite soon!) I am grateful for my brain-bending mentors and the many people in my life who are supporting me in my efforts to build my business and my person.

And I'm kinda liking my life in the fast lane!