A few weeks ago I just happened to be clicking around the Blue Cross Blue Shield NC website (Blue Connect) and saw something that said in free gift cards.

I clicked.

I earned free gift cards.

If you watch a 3 minute interactive video about your insurance plan, you get a voucher in the mail for 25 points. If you update your contact information, you get a second voucher for 15 points.

When they arrived in the mail, I went to the rewards page to redeem them and found that each point is worth $1 and you can choose which gift cards you want! I redeemed both vouchers for Amazon gift cards. The gift cards are electronic so I was able to redeem them that same day.


I used the vouchers towards a new top and an air tight container for my puppy’s dog food. The top was $18.99 and the container was reduced to $17.15. Those vouchers went a long way to covering these purchases!

If you have a Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance policy, go online and log in. Click around a bit. You might just earn free gift cards!



The women in my family love jewelry and my grandmothers have been quite the collectors. My father’s mother has traveled the world and collected pieces everywhere she went. Each piece of jewelry she has, has a story that goes along with it. My mother’s mother has always a knack for befriending jewelers and they have certainly been friendships with benefits. (Note: Grandmother has not intentionally sought out jewelers as friends. She just happened to live in very small towns and everyone tends know each other very well) As a result of being the only granddaughters on both sides of the family, my sister and I have been the recipients of many beautiful and unique jewelry pieces.

Naturally, not every piece is exactly to our taste. By combining some of the older pieces with some new elements, beautiful stones can take on a new life. For example, I have an old pearl enhancer that I will never wear in a million years. It has a beautiful medium blue stone that I would love to wear more often. I’m not quite sure if it is an aquamarine or a sapphire, but it is stunning. I also have a pair of very pale aquamarine stud earrings from way back when I just had my ears pierced. The stones sizes compliment each other very well.

I first went online to find some inspiration and found plenty.

By just playing around in Apple Preview and cutting and pasting elements from photos I found online, I built a few designs to help visualize turning my pearl enhancer and old earrings into a ring. I made around 8 different arrangements, but these three are my favorites.

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I was originally considering a horizontal arrangement, but after playing around with the stones on my hand, I like the vertical arrangement better.

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What I need to decide now is which vertical version to have made. I was able to take a photo of my hand and overlay the design, but I’m still not sure which one to pick.


No matter what I choose, I just hope my design for this ring works out as well as the one I did for my mother’s wedding ring.


I recently took my pearls to a local woman who runs a small jewelry store to be rearranged and restrung as one large necklace. What I got back was a mess and I was upset to say the least. My mother took her pearls to the same woman and they came back shorter and without her gold and pearl clasp! It was a nightmare and we are just beginning to get past it. For mother’s day, us kids got together and had mom’s pearls fixed by a professional and replaced the pearls that were not returned. That part of the saga is finally over.

As you can see, my pearls are still a hot mess. They are so long I could jump rope with them and she didn’t even use all of the pearls!

Before I turn them over to be restrung again, I decided I would try to restring them myself. I can’t screw it up anymore than that woman already did! Armed with this article, I bought some supplies (silk thread, bead board, beading needles) on Amazon and gave it a shot.

I may have bitten off more than I can chew. I have a LOT of pearls. All of these pearls came from many different necklaces and I hope to be able to string them all together in a somewhat graduated fashion with knots in between each pearl. I certainly have my work cut out for me. This is going to take a few days so I will post again once I have more to show.


Over the weekend I picked up my newly improved earrings from Facet Foundry Jewelry Studio in Gastonia, NC and I am so pleased with how they turned out!

Here is the before:

Here is the after:

My mom has a larger pair of these earrings that she has had for as long as l can remember and she has worn them almost every day since she got them. At some point during high school, my mom gave me and my sister a pair just like hers. I have so enjoyed them, but realized I would enjoy them much more as studs. I took my earrings to Facet Foundry and they worked their magic.

Facet Foundry can do anything and I am always dreaming up new things to do with existing pieces, but nothing will top the ring they made from my design.

Thank you Facet Foundry!


 Like I said in a previous post, I spent a month in New Mexico studying silversmithing at the Ghost Ranch. I was going through my jewelry the other day and found this pair of stud earrings. I had completely forgot about them! I made them during that month.

The month was coming to an end and I was running out of materials, but wanted to continue working and learning. I found a matching pair of cabochons in the grab box and made these studs. They are very simple: triangle cabochons on silver discs.

I wish I had explored more options with earrings than I did. Maybe I will just have to go back and take the class again. I would really love to do that.


A few years ago I spend a month in New Mexico studying silversmithing in the southwest tradition at the Ghost Ranch. I learned some pretty neat tricks of the trade, but this is my favorite piece from that trip. I still cannot believe I made this inlay bracelet.

First I started with a layer of silver. I then added the two side strips. The tricky part was bending the bracelet! I admit to having some help with that part. The bare bones of the bracelet with the stones I selected are pictured above.

I then cut the stones down in size and lined them up based on fit. I numbered then and began using epoxy to secure them in place.

Once secure, I began evening out their height and rounding them into the finished product.

Here is the finished bracelet! I was very pleased with how it turned out. Right now my grandmother is enjoying wearing it, but this is a piece the women of my family pass around and share. I wish I had made more than one! I hope to have the chance to go to the Ghost Ranch again!