Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Return of the Sea Lions

The Return of the Sea Lions

For a week I had been hearing a colony of sea lions barking across the Bay and although I had viewed them from the dock I also was eager to observe them from the water however the weather was not cooperating with my plan.  The winds had been playing havoc on the waters and the temp was near freezing so I waited impatiently for the weather to be more agreeable for a paddle.

Yesterday was picture perfect! 

The sun was shining, the winds ceased blowing, the water was flat and my kayak beckoned me. 

Each year the sea lions come for a visit.  They just inexplicably appear, stay for a couple of weeks and then depart as mysteriously as they arrive.   These winged foot mammals are enormous and I find them extremely fascinating.  I paddled very close to the dock for a close up picture but as soon a huge bull started barking and dove (well actually plunked clumsily) into the water near me I quickly back paddled and gave them lots of room.  I am not keen on doing water ballet with one of these huge guys!

Top Sea Lion Facts

       ·        Sea Lions enjoy relaxing and basking in the sun

·        The males are called bulls and the females are called cows

·        Males are massive and can weigh from 1,500 pounds to 1 ton in exceptional cases and can also be up to 11 feet long

·        Females are smaller with an average weight of 700 pounds

·        Female Sea Lions become part of a harem with a male that protects them

·        They give birth to pups, which are born on land and can weigh up to 50 pounds at birth

·        A Sea Lion is able to dive up to 600 feet for food in the water

·        They can remain under the water for up to 40 minutes before surfacing for air

·        They can swim at up to 25 miles per hour but generally they only move about 10 miles per hour unless they feel threatened

·        The average life span in the wild for a Sea Lion is 20 years

A link to Pacific Ocean Sea lions:

Related articles


Are you a nature lover?  What excites you about the outdoors? 

author:  Trish (BlackCrowCurios)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Identity Crisis

I began my Etsy selling adventures a lot more recently than it says in my shop profile. It was just dead space for a while. When I graduated college, I decided now was the time to REALLY knuckle down and use Etsy as a way to bring in extra income and keep my creative juices flowing while working some sort of "real job." Since then, I've had a wee little wrench thrown into my plans.

I named myself Bonedance Jewelry because of my focus on fossil ivory scrimshaw, carved bone pieces, and similar organics mixed with metal. Then Etsy decided no more ivory, period. It doesn't matter that my work is legal and totally devoid of the ethical struggles of modern ivory since mammoths have been dead for over 10,000 years. I may have thrown a small tantrum when the new policy first rolled out. What the hell was I supposed to do now? I was just starting to really get some inventory up and sell things! And I had to rename my shop? And my personal site! And make a whole new line of jewelry? Any reputation I had gained was poof. I thought about starting a new shop from scratch and scrapping Bonedance and the thought really hurt. I felt dead.

I got over all that about 59 seconds later when I decided this was a challenge, not an end to my shop. I laid out my new challenges (Keep thinking forward, Rachel, or else you'll have another tantrum and those are not pretty.):
  1. Make new metal work. Base some of it on my travels to London and elsewhere. Use all those damn gemstones I keep hoarding. Time to let them out into the world!
  2. Find other ways to market and sell ivory and scrimshaw and bone. Use that free shop function on my personal website. Approach local stores for once. Keep loving what I do even if Etsy's blanket policies don't. The Etsy home page is not my goal, anyway. It's being competition for the amazing designer I recently discovered named Monique Pean. If her ivory is accepted, mine will be too.
  3. Screw changing the name! I like it.
So lately, I've been nose to the grindstone making new metal jewelry.

When I'm not doing that I'm making plans to start showing at local art/craft fairs in the spring. I grew up attending the Yellow Daisy Festival in Stone Mountain, GA. Ever since I chose the path of being a maker, I've wanted to try my hand at showing at craft fairs. I think it's about time for that little dream to take off.

Thanks to the devastating Etsy policy change, I have been very slow at regaining my footing online, but I think a foray into the outside world might be even better. I now have THREE totally different lines of work to show off: scrimshaw, metalwork/gemstones, and funky beaded earrings (from my massive childhood gemstone bead collection.). The policy change was a bit like being electrocuted back to life. It may just be the catalyst that lights a fire under my rear and encourages me in the direction of success.

I'll keep you posted on how well this keeps going towards spring!

Have you ever experienced an event that initially was a truly awful thing but turned out for the better? I'd love to hear!

Happy (Upcoming) Turkey Day!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Sad Time For My Family

My Grandma Ione
Hello again everyone! Well this has certainly been a month of sadness for my family.

Many of you won't know that my grandmother, who taught me all the crafts I love so dearly, passed away a couple of weeks ago, and it's been hard trying to say goodbye. She was a very important person in my life in a lot of different ways, and while it hurts to know she's gone, it's comforting to know that I shared a special love of crafts with her. As I've spent time reminiscing about all the wonderful memories I cherish, I find solace when I pick up a ball of yarn and my knitting needles. That's what Grandma Ione would have done, and I've found a great deal of comfort in knitting up slippers just like she used to make for all of us in the family. The past week has been full of knitting slippers for many of my relatives in the hopes of providing them a little piece of comfort as they also spend time remembering the wonderful person my grandmother was.

At the same time, one of my uncles on the same side of my family is battling cancer and not doing well. We continue to pray for his health to return and for his comfort.

On the business side of things, I have to say I've been taking advantage of the fact that my shop has been pretty dead recently. It's given me time to focus on the sadness in my heart, and to take stock of the blessings I've had in my life. I've been slowly returning to a normal work flow from losing Grandma, and I've been working on the seasonal items I offer for the holidays. Work continues on the new website for the shop, and as soon as I have the new photos cropped and get them up, I may just be able to consider it complete which will be a relief to me. Now it's really just a matter of getting my name out there and getting business coming in, which continues to be my Achilles heel so to speak. Too often I make excuses for my laziness in trying to promote my business (after all, it's easy to procrastinate when you've got as much on your plate as I do--full time nanny, full time student, my own business, and I'm planning a wedding and a move!) Yes, I need to stop procrastinating and start promoting. Hopefully things will pick up here soon for the holidays. In the mean time I will continue on as I always have, doing my best and loving what I do!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

ETSY online!



I’ve always enjoyed the creative process and using reclaimed wood for Folk Art satisfies my need to be creative.

I enjoy playing with wood, cutting, painting and repurposing it as something whimsical, fun and playful.

All I required was an outlet to sell my product, so opening an Etsy shop seemed like the right solution!

Although I have enjoyed starting up my Etsy shop, the downside is that it is taking up a great chunk of my time and I am discovering that too many hours at the computer is not such a great thing for back and eyes which begin straining and complaining to move away, go outside, jump, walk anything but sit at a screen editing listings, interacting in the discussions, checking and rechecking tags and titles, looking over the stats, (why are my views so low?) and brainstorming marketing ideas.

Then ‘HELLO’ I receive my first Etsy Transaction Note for an order and a following email from Paypal stating that an item has been paid for and can now be shipped and all the pains and strains melt away in the happy delirium of a sale!
Having an Etsy shop is so much fun and also so addictive!  To create something out of reclaimed wood or repurposed items and have a Buyer like it enough to purchase it, is so gratifying and motivates me to keep on creating!


I live on Vancouver Island in a small cottage by the sea called Black Crow Cottage. My husband and I built our small cottage a few years back when our daughters grew up and away. We embraced the idea of minimizing, sold the big house and gave away or sold a lot of the items that are necessary to fill all the rooms of a big house and then we built small, very small by most folks standards, a mere 1000 square feet.  Living on a smaller footprint has been challenging in some ways and liberating in others.  Less time spent cleaning and more time having fun!
When a big storm took down our friend’s barn in the Cowichan Valley, I recovered a barn window from the collapsed building.

I knocked out the remaining glass, removed the old putty, repainted the frame and added squares of mirror. I gave it back to my friend as a memory of her old barn and she was delighted with it!  From there the inspiration of creating other Barn Window Mirrors began.

I am constantly inspired by the beauty of our West Coast shores.  Living by the sea not only affords me the luxury of kayaking, beachcombing and enjoying the West Coast lifestyle but also offers me a fresh 'crop' of driftwood daily to use in the making of driftwood boats, such fun to create, and of course it's very gratifying if others enjoy them as well!
My Etsy shop is still pretty new and while I am very focused on improvements I also have plenty to reflect on regarding my accomplishments, what I have learned and what I still need to learn.


I’ve ACCOMPLISHED opening a shop, stocking it with Barn Window Mirrors, Driftwood Boats, Wall Hooks, Signs and Folk Art and I am actually making sales from people other than my friends and family. People unknown to me actually felt my product was worth purchasing. Go figure…

I’ve LEARNED that opening an Etsy shop is time-consuming and comes with an enormous learning curve. I am finding that I am spending way more time on my Etsy Shop than I had imagined I would.  I don’t have an addictive personality, however I have to be careful that when I ‘power up my computer’ and sit down at my desk I don’t get sucked into the Etsy vacuum and lose myself in the reading, absorbing and applying of what I am learning.

I’ve LEARNED that if you want compliments, ask your friends and family but if you want an honest critique from your Commitment Team that is exactly what you will get! Gut wrenching honesty. I have learned many things from the team I have joined, such as my photos are horrible, dark and cluttered and my shop is not cohesive. In the future I hope you will see cleaner, brighter product photos and a more cohesive shop look.

I’ve LEARNED the INS and OUTS of social media and how to increase my shop’s reach. So ‘friend’ me on face book and ‘like’ me on my blog.  Basically I am requesting all your hearts and attention…

In reviewing my successes this year the only thing I really know for sure is that I am exactly where I need to be...

BLACKCROWCURIOS believes in creative reuse by reclaiming and transforming cast off items into useful and decorative home accents. Beach combing and the inspiration of the outdoors are essential components of the BLACKCROWCURIOS design process.

Author:  Trish Repay



Thursday, October 17, 2013


I typically associate a Winery with a wedding location or a wine tasting tour. But last Sunday we went to the local winery, Indian Creek,  for the Harvest Festival!! Let me tell you....it was beautiful weather, live music, local handmade crafters (Like Etsy sellers) and oh sooo good wine! We brought blankets and chairs and sat down on the beautifully flowering grounds with friends, wine and enjoyed the day!

The first 100 guests were given these fancy little wine glasses, and $5 bought you 5 tastings and a chance at a raffle. We arrived after, oh....let's say 500 people, so we had to pay for our lovely glasses. Then a bottle of Star Garnet, which is my favorite red wine that they make.

Above is where the band was set up all day and below, near a little pond were two gourmet food trucks! Apparently these food trucks are the new Top Chefs! I have ordered from a variety of these food trucks and the food never fails to be original, gourmet and so yummy! 

B29 Streetery is my favorite, the brisket sliders and garlic cilantro fries are delish. 

In their gift shop they have local jewelry and handmade goods among other must haves. I nearly bought this shirt, I am fairly certain it would have made me more awesome:) I do however have a bling wine shirt already, it reads Wineaux. Nearly every time I wear it someone tries to buy it off of me!!!

This little gal belongs to the owners. She roams the winery in search of pets and treats. There was a wine cork counting contest, guess how many in the bucket??? Alas I didn't win....

Needless to say the day was perfect and we can't wait to go to the next event. 

Check out the events for your local winery, they often have Holiday Festivals, where you can buy last minute xmas etsy-like goods, wine and even make your own concoction of wine!!

Happy Thursday!!



Friday, October 11, 2013

What Are We Teaching Our Children?

Debora L. Griffin - Wife, Momma, Domestic Goddess and Jewelry Artist. Sharing everyday experiences, parenting while re-purposing and up-cycling unique handmade jewelry pieces.  www.CraftedLocally.com 
These are my opinions.

For whatever reason, my husband LOVES to watch the train wreck of Mommas on Toddlers and Tiaras. He is so entertained watching grown women make idiots of themselves.  Because I love him and wanted to be with him, I sat in the room with him and watched with growing horror.  I couldn't believe not only how some of these women act, but also what they were teaching their children.

These women (I could say parents or families here because sometimes it is the whole family but for brevity I’ll leave it at women, that’s 99.9% of what you see on the show) have sexualized their children beyond belief.  It’s not enough that they are putting makeup on them to “make them beautiful” and that toddlers look like a 20 year old. Or that they are buying hair pieces for a 3 year old to wear, or even that they spend a truck-load of money for “flippers” (fake teeth to improve the smiles) and sparkly beautiful $5000 gowns.  No these women have to go on and sexualize them through their stage movements, dance and their theme outfits. 

Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman

Madonna theme outfit

Instructions at dance practice or stage performance practice or whatever you want to call it might include “shake your booty,” “flirt with the judges,” “show your sexy eyes,” “give me a real shimmy now” and the killer for me “sex it up some.” 

You heard me…”sex it up some.”  To a three year old - “Sex it up some.” REALLY?  REALLY?


I think it’s time for a disclaimer here.  My daughter participates in pageants.  She has participated in 3 school pageants over 3 years.  So at 13, 14, and 15 years of age, we bought her a formal (well, actually she bought it.  She saved enough money to buy it herself, I’ll tell you more in a later post) searched for that perfect Sportswear Outfit, put on a little extra makeup and let her strut her stuff across that stage.  Basically, she has fun playing dress up with her friends.
E. in Blue - Miss Congeniality

So you can see we are not against pageants - not at all.

But what these crazy mommas on Toddler and Tiaras are teaching their daughters just astounds me.

Even at 3 these pageants could be beneficial.  It could help a child feel comfortable in the limelight.  It could help her overcome shyness…or if she’s really a stage hound, it could give her a venue to perform a talent in front of a willing and appreciative audience.  As children get older pageants can teach poise and self-confidence, and perfect talent skills.  They can teach children to deal with stage fright, organizational skills, planning skills, time management, even some beauty tricks that the average female may not know.

But WHY OH WHY do we have to make it about being sexy?  Why does a 3 year old need sex appeal?  WHYYYYYYYY?

There were some other values being taught to the children that concern me too.  i.e.
  •  You have no value if you aren't pretty;
  • Do whatever it takes to win;
  • Belittle your opponent;
  • Complain if you don’t win;
  • Acting like a “diva” is acceptable, nay, expected;
  • No one else in this family is as important as you;
  • It's ok to treat your mother with disrespect when you aren't getting your way;
  • Screaming at people is acceptable;
  • Pitching hissy fits is acceptable;
  • Throwing things – acceptable;
  • Ripping costumes – acceptable.  

enough said

screaming at mom

hissy fit


This list goes on and on.  Some of these behaviors were prevalent because the child was tired and didn't WANT to do the pageant at that particular moment.  I get that. But at 3 years of age, I can definitively say…MOMMA put her there.  MOMMA entered her in a pageant.  MOMMA is responsible for the behavior and the training of the child thereof.

What ever happened to?
  • Beauty is from within;
  • Play fair;
  • May the best man (child) win;
  • Learn from your mistakes;
  • Act like a lady;
  • Treat others with compassion;
  • Be respectful;
  • Speak kindly to others;
  • We’re in this together;
  • You break it you pay for it (or in the case of a 3 year old…you’ll do without)?
Tolerating unacceptable behavior as a parent is just raising the next unproductive, uncontrolled, undisciplined adult, because you are telling them in the moment THOSE are the values you accept – live even.

As we got deeper and deeper into the show I started questioning…why would these mothers do this?  Why would they let their children act so disrespectfully?  Why did they act like children themselves? Why was having their child look sexy important to them?  It made me start thinking about some of the issues these mothers may be dealing with.

But this is a parenting blog so I’ll stick to that.

Parents – what you teach your children matters.  What you teach by example is often more important that what you teach by instruction.  Whether it is a pageant, sporting event, field trip or just every day life, these are all teaching moments.  And it is in these moments that your child learns about themselves, develops their self esteem, their self worth, their value, compassion for others, kindheartedness, self control, selflessness, self-reliance, sensitivity to others, teamwork, strength, thankfulness, thoughtfulness, loyalty...  Again, the list can go on and on.

Teach your children positive values.  Don’t blow it.

PS...not all of these pictures above show toddlers...but they are representative of what I saw on the program last night.  Below are some photos submitted for Miss Photogenic...I believe they are all toddlers - touched up.

PPS...I realize the producers choose the worst behaved child and weirdest mom...makes for "good" TV.

Now just a little pageant humor...or not.

Debora L. Griffin - Wife, Momma, Domestic Goddess and Jewelry Artist. Sharing everyday experiences, parenting while re-purposing and up-cycling unique handmade jewelry pieces.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Good Reads: Never Have Your Dog Stuffed

A few weeks ago a coworker at my "day job" foisted a couple of books on me. She used the old line "You'd really like these," and I ended up with them, obligated to read and, of course, report that I liked them. I love reading; books are my favorite method for escaping my own life (which, despite my own better judgment, I still seem to be trying to do). Yet, I am always wary of books given to me by others. Like the kid at the lunch table who gives away his dessert without bargaining for it, I have to wonder what is wrong with it. It's clearly not your prize treasure because you are willing to risk handing it to me. There's also this freaky thing: I feel like I am peering into your skull when I read what you read.

Hesitations aside, I picked up Never Have Your Dog Stuffed the biography of Alan Alda (M*A*S*H star "Hawkeye") today and have gotten about halfway through. He's funny, quirky, intelligent and I think we share a similar disregard for other peoples' rules. So far it sounds like he'd do just about anything to follow his dream of being an actor. That's something I admire. The biggest difference between us seems to be that, at the age of twenty something, he still had that feeling of invincibility that only toddlers and lunatics seem to be able to muster. He never grew out of it, I suppose, and I doubt I ever had it. This whole "making it on your own as an artist" thing scares the crap out of me!

I am engrossed in figuring out how he managed to stay so insanely confident of success. I have been told before that learning about other artists is helpful to my own success, but it never really occurred to me to REALLY try until I met this HUGE ego of Mr. Alda's in his book. I suppose I'll let you know how the dissection of his words go. In the meantime, I am curious; what keeps the fear monster at bay for you when you want or need to accomplish a daunting task? I'd love to hear how other people operate.