Monday, January 31, 2011

One World One Heart 2011


The Amazing Lisa Swifka is our wonderful hostess.  Please visit her blog to say thanks for all the hard work she has put into this event & to visit new blogs & make friends.  This has been a spectacular event for the last four years, so come join in on the fun (click the link or the picture below to be taken to the list of participants)

If you are a first time visitor, welcome to my blog Creative Musings.  My name is Nerissa Alford & I am a jewelry artist, mixed media artist & photographer (I can't just pick one medium).  I am an American ex-pat currently living in Kuwait with my family. This is the 5th Year I have participated & the first that I am in the same location as the previous year. We move around quite a bit!

Camel Prints Card: taken during my first camping excursion

Up Close & Personal Card: Another camping excursion

This year I am giving away a little package of things that remind me of Kuwait.  The first items in my Kuwait care package are the photographs.  I have taken all these photos here & turned into 5x7 greeting cards.  You can send them with a sentiment & they are suitable for framing when it's done with it's job as a card.

Camel Silhouette: Ditto - you'd think I was a camping fiend, but really my first camping experiences came right here in Kuwait.

Kuwait Skyline Card: from a Dhow cruise

Kuwait Towers Detail Card: This is a landmark that Kuwait is known for

The second item is a woven ring band.  You'll have to send me your ring size & favorite color.  I have been so fortunate to find a bead store right here in Kuwait & take classes from the talented owners.  I would be so delighted to make you a ring from the techniques I learned from them. 

Woven Ring Bands: I took the class here in Kuwait

The last of the items will be some mystery items from Kuwait.  Here are some clues:
  1. Since Arabic is read from right to left, all the journals & notebooks here open backwards, although they would argue that my journals open backwards.
  2. Sweets are a big deal here & since it's not so hot, I don't have to worry about them melting.
  3. Some of the food items here are totally cool!!
If you are interested in more of my posts of Kuwait, just type in Kuwait on the search bar on the side or click on the Kuwait label at the end of the post.

To be eligible you must comment on this blog post.  You must be an active blogger & leave an email or link back to your blog so I can contact you if you are the winner.  It is open to all bloggers world wide.

I hope you enjoy the last year of this event.  I am so blessed to have been a part of it & meet so many new bloggers - that is what this is about :)  A million thank you's to Lisa!  We cannot thank you enough for what you have done for us!

Friday, January 28, 2011


WIP: Reclaim collage oval 15" x 19"

my energy
my body
my health
my art
my creative space
my couple time
my loves
my life

My theme for 2011: Reclaim
I've just about completed by Blast Off class with Alyson Stanfield.  In the less than 30 days I have:
  • cleaned, arranged & decorated my studio space
  • scheduled & currently prepping for my first open house for the year
  • made a business plan for the year & committed to it
  • wrote realistic goals for myself, my business & my art
  • found daily gratitudes in little & big things
  • planned my waking hours daily & showed up
  • finally started up a FB page for my business (it's still in process, so stay tuned)
  • signed up for the Biggest Loser with our embassy community
  • consistently worked out (running & weight training) most of my planned 6 days a week
  • planned healthy dinners on a weekly basis
  • blogged (this is post 10 of the month - I'm almost up to 20% of the total number of posts I did last year & it's only January!)
This has been a whirlwind of a class.  It's been a (mostly) great 7 weeks for me, when my new year resolutions began.  I hope to continue moving in the direction I'm going.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On the Work Table

And the love affair with peyote continues.  I experimented & used some 8/0 Czech seed beads instead of Japanese seed beads.  I didn't know if I could handle the irregular sizes of Czech beads but it's such a pretty mix of colors.  How could I say no?  I'm a sucker for Czech mixes & these have a Bronze Aurora Borealis finish.  Again, I played a bit & used a very sweet resin flower with a tiny fire polish bead in the middle. 
♥ Yep, love ♥

I also got some new cabochons.  Lots of pretty colors & shapes to play with.  Not enough hours in the day :)  I miss the days of staying up all hours of the night crafting, every night.  But it's part of being a responsible adult, part of scheduling things I've committed to: working out, running, dates with the hubby.  I'll make time to play with the new goodies & make more rings.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Camping Part 3

My Self Portrait - unfortunately, there was not much sun so I didn't get the traditional shadow picture.
It's amazing what living in Kuwait has done for me.  I have checked so many things off my to do list that were never there.  I constantly think about how lucky we are to be here & the things we experience as a family.

The area we stopped to camp in was full of rocks & pebbles.  More than I normally see.  It made the scenery quite beautiful.  There were lots of dunes around.  I didn't get any camels this time.  There were some on our way in, but they were in their pen & it was fully dark when we left.  I also missed out on sunset shots since there was no sun.

This was supposed to be the first time I went camping - overnight & in a tent - but it was not to be.  The weather was not on our side with strong winds & expected rain the next day.  We stayed for the afternoon & packed up to go home in the evening.

One of my guys enjoying marshmallows by the fire.

This trip had a bit of excitement at the end.  There were a few cars that got stuck in the sand.  Luckily we had tow straps & several SUV's.  I, of course, had to document this.  After the first few tries didn't work I put the camera down to help dig out sand & push the car.  Oh, the things I get to do!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's a Winner!

So I took my jewelry class for a Peyote Ring & I think it's love.  I selected the kit that was the same as the sample.  I finished my project today & completed another one. 

My ring, almost done.  The band is "zipped" & I'm adding the crystal embellishments.
It's done & she's a beauty  (I love the pic from my new lens, too)
I'm so excited to play with different colors & sizes.  The second one ended up being skinnier & had less crystals.  As a matter of fact, I'm wearing it right now!

On to ring number 2.

The finished one ended up a bit different than planned.  I tried to use drops but they didn't work so I went back to bicone crystals. 
Thank you LB J'azz!  This was the second class I took with them & I'm ready to take more.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My Work Table This Week

Actually the work table is a bit crowded to work on.  I should probably put that at the top of my list to clean off.  I just got back into the flow of jewelry making.  I took some time off following the holiday bazaars & just enjoyed time with the family - and the new camera lens.

I started my first project this year.  This kit was on my Christmas list & I received it thanks to my mother & father in law.  It was a first for me to just buy a kit & try it out.  The first 2 rows were difficult.  It took about 20 minutes to get it sorted out.  I had the hardest time keeping track of whether I added a new bead, passed through or skipped.  Once I got going it was relaxing but I kept thinking to myself, "I'm going to make an entire bracelet from this?  Thank goodness my wrist is small."  It's a great prep for this class on Tuesday:

I can't wait to take my second class with the LB o J'azz ladies.  If you're local & want to come, click on the class name for the link.  Picture courtesy of LB o J'azz.
I'm a serious ring junkie & I think this will be fun.  Think of all the fun colors :)  The class comes with a kit they've put together & they never disappoint with the color choices.

The rest of these projects are hold overs from last year.  I don't know how I start or ever finish projects.  I am all over the place.  When the inspiration hits, I go with it, hence I start a bajillion projects.  The last picture is some new crystals in a marea finish, which is a favorite of mine at the moment, paired with some seed beads I already had in my stash.

This post is a result of the Blog Triage Class & one of my goals to blog more frequently in the upcoming year.  My list is here.  Lots of good stuff to blog about!

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I am working on lesson 3 of the Blast Off class.  The last 2 lessons dealt with Vision & Affirmations.  Here are mine.
French Labels & Stars - Thank you House of 3

I created the cards digitally in PSE.  I plan on cutting these out & adding them to my Vision Board.  I made one of these a few years ago & it's about time to make a new one. 
I love where I am going with this class!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I don't make New Year's Resolutions, but I use the new year to reflect on accomplishments from the past year & developing points for the upcoming year.  So far this year has started well.  I jumped in running with the head start I got in December.  I vowed to do a few things:
  • Schedule my time.  I've got all sorts of little pieces that are supposed to fit into the puzzle.  I wasn't doing a good job of getting them to all fit.  I've learned to say no a bit more.  I've blocked off the time I can't control; work, kid's homework, dinner, etc.  And filled in what I can; workouts, weekly dates with the hubby & time to work on updating the shop.  I've got to say, I feel good!
  • I've taken control of our dinner menu.  We were tired of just having whatever & not whatever was healthy.  I'm planning dinner & the shopping list on a weekly basis.
My Grateful Journal - A new daily exercise.  Just fun pens in a fun journal.  I don't want to complicate it quite yet & make it an art journaling project. 
  • I am getting the jewelry business up off the ground.  I have been stuck behind the hump the last few years & am determined to make it work.  (I love you Tim Gunn!)   I get some great news & some momentum, but I can't continue riding the wave.  I'd like to become more disciplined & focused with my work.  I'm taking another class with Alyson Stanfield, Blast Off, & I've been reading her book when ever I have a spare second - I don't read books unless they are craft books or magazines - & I can't put it down.
What are your plans for the year?  I don't even have all my goals written yet - it's still a work in progress - but the past 4 weeks have been full of accomplishments for myself & my family.  Here's to a productive January 2011.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My New Toy

For Christmas I received a new macro lens for my camera.  I needed it to take close ups of my jewelry.
(BTW, if you are looking for camera or lens info make sure you check out the link for Ken Rockwell.  He and my friend LizNoel have been a source in info for me. 

I am having so much fun playing with it.  I'm finding a few things as I'm playing with it:
  • The color is soooo sharp.  
Another shot of my fave at the 360 Mall
  • I don't know what to do with myself because I use the auto-focus feature & I don't have to turn the ring on the lens.  
  • It is really close up.  I have to scoot way back sometimes if I'm trying to take pictures of things other than my jewelry. 
The Spice Club at 360 Mall

Here are a few jewelry shots
A note on my jewelry store.  Updates are coming February 1st.   I'll keep adding sneak peaks on my blog.  All new pieces & some that have come back from after being published.

Opal Pendant, Czech firepolish beads, Freshwater button pearls

Brass earwires & components, Czech glass seedbeads

Brass setting, wire, clasp & findings, Vintage pearl cabochon, Vintage crown cabochon, Re-purposed rhinestone earring

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Look Back on 2010

Here are some highlights from the past year:

We took our second dhow cruise this year.  This is one of the several hundred pics I snapped.  The skyline & sunset were a favorite subject of mine.
Dustmageddon.  Some of you get snow, I get dust.  Not so much a highlight, but something interesting!
I have a hard time churning out several of the same items - that's why I do so well with the OOAK thing.  I made these for Kim Caldwell's Artistic Affaire.

Camel Races in the Spring.  This is a must do in Kuwait.  Utter chaos as the picture above shows!

The family went to Athens, Greece this year in November.  My hubby & I ran as part of the 2500 anniversary of the original marathon.  (I did the 10k & hubs did the full!).  This self portrait was taken in one of the Colosseum ruins by the Acropolis.

I found beading friends!  And took bead weaving class as well.  This was my class project & I've made a few more since then.
During the summer, sometimes it was hot (over 100 degrees) & humid (check out the foggy image above).  It was so humid that the camera fogged up.  This mosque tower is by the 360 Mall

Detail of the Kuwait Towers.  We've taken several field trips there when we have visitors.  This photo was taken in the evening with my zoom lens. 

Some artwork I made for myself.  It's 12x12 canvas to commemorate an accomplishment that was not a particularly easy thing for me to do.  So I ran back to my artistic comfort zone & had some sushi :)

This year I began taking self portraits.  It's the only way to document "I was there" since I'm always the one behind the camera.  I had fun taking pictures of this day at someone's private beach.

Fabric shopping at the Fabric Souk.  I would have loved having access to this while I was a design student.  Heaven!

Westerners here are big on finding products from home.  The Lulu Hypermarket opened this year.  The building is based on a dhow & has 2 huge domes on the ceiling.  The first time I went shopping it took me 2 1/2 hours to get out of there - it's 3 levels.  I also kept calling my husband to tell him about all my finds.

We took a cruise & I went swimming & snorkeling with stingrays.  Who knew I'd pass up a shopping excursion?
This past year was jam packed & I suspect this coming year will be the same.  I was fortunate to get a new camera last year as my Christmas gift, so taking photos was a big part of my year.  It's become quite a love & passion of mine.  Here's to 2011!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

I took a few minutes to go by my favorite mosque (Imam Muhammad al-Baqir Mosque) last night.  I was on my way to the co-op & it was around dusk so I wanted to snap a couple of pictures.  Most of my pictures are during the day.  I love the lights shining out.

Who knows how many pictures I'll take of this mosque this year.  It's been a favorite subject of mine.  Some days I get out of my car, others I stick myself out my sunroof or window.  I drive around to get all angles  I always find something new.  Here's to a creative 2011!