Rants from the Crib

An Ob/Gyn gone mad

Archive for the tag “hobbies”

Super Travel Girl

The next 2 days will be insane. Today I will be flying home to Alabama from North Dakota via Denver, Charlotte, and Huntsville. But will I see my family?  Heck no!  My hubby and my daughter are in Philadelphia for work/ fun and won’t be back until Monday. I, on the other hand, am arriving at home at 11 PM tonight and will have to wildly pack for my next trip, which starts tomorrow, and for which I depart at 2:45 PM. I have to pack for TWO destinations – I am going to Milwaukee first for my fabulous jewelry conference, which I attend every year. I will be there for a week. Then I am leaving DIRECTLY for North Dakota to work, without pausing to go back home first. So I have to pack work clothes, and I have to pack funky clothes and jewelry supplies for my show. How will I fit all this in the suitcases I don’t know. It’s going to be interesting!  I am strongly considering checking 2 bags, which will be unwieldy and expensive, but the locums company I work for does reimburse travel expenses. Then I’ll have a carry-on and a backpack too. Yikes!  And I have to do it all in 11 hours!  Fortunately I did think to launder all the clothes from this trip at the hotel. So I can pack all the work clothes straight out of the suitcase. And I don’t even want to think what will happen if I miss even one connection. I will be totally screwed!  My first flight out of here is already delayed an hour, but I think I will make the connection. So, phew!  I’m just a little stressed right now. Craziness!  Wish me luck!

Super Travel Girl

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How Many Earrings Are Too Many?


Answer : you can never have too many! Especially when you make them all in a hotel on a lazy weekend in North Dakota.


I didn’t copy much my mom did, but one thing she did do that fascinated me was her photography.  She was a very accomplished photographer, having taught herself how to use a Nikon manually long before there were such things as digital photography.  She knew about f-stops and apertures, and all the things photographers know about and I wanted to know them too.  I will preface this by saying that I still don’t use those things, because my digital camera has pretty much made them obsolete.  I still wish I knew though.  I read all the instructions in the book that came with the camera, and it covered those things, but applying them to the actual camera is not intuitive.

Blue Heron

Blue Heron

Mom took great pictures, with one exception.  She always sucked at photographing people, because she always made them put on makeup and pose, with big fake smiles on everybody’s faces.  That is a recipe for human photography suckitude.  I always vowed that when I took pictures of my own, they would be spontaneous and unposed.  I kept that promise, which is why my pictures of people are so much better than hers are.  She does the most amazing nature photography, however.  She has an instinctive feel for lighting, color, and positioning items in the photo so that they lead the eye in and around in a way that is somehow meant to be. 

I started on my first camera when I was somewhere under twelve.  A magazine I subscribed to had instructions on making a pinhole camera, which I carefully followed.  It was nearly finished when Christmas came, but someone had taken pity on me, watching all my hard work, and had bought me a real camera of my own.  Good old Santa!  It was a Kodak Instamatic -I bet some of you remember those.  I took many many pictures with that camera.  They were none of them great, because I understood nothing about composition, but some of them still remain in some stained old picture albums I have. 

Kissy Face

Kissy Face

I bought myself a Polaroid some years later, and of course had big fun with that because of the instant gratification.  I kept that for years and took pictures of my friends doing crazy things, a good few of which I still have.  I didn’t get my first good camera until I finished residency.  And it was actually a gift.  I was about to buy one myself, but Christmas came, and good old Santa came in the form of an attorney I was dating at the time.  He got me a Canon digital and I was thrilled to death.  I immediately began to take better pictures.  They were better because I could take hundreds of them and immediately look at the results.  They were better because I could delete the not good ones.  I had two small dogs at the time and took hundreds of photos of them doing various doggie things.  The one thing I learned about photography from people who are good at it is CLOSER.  The picture will always be better the closer you get to your subject.  This is almost universally true.  If you fill the screen with your subject, or even a part of it the picture will always be better than if it appears far away and is filled with other distracting objects which have nothing to do with the picture.  Or ugly things like socks on the rug behind your subject.  I had that camera about ten years and I loved it dearly.  Then one Christmas, we bought Mom a new camera, her first digital.  After doing all the research on it, I decided I wanted one for Christmas too.  It was a Nikon and it came with interchangeable lenses, which was my next goal.

Blue Dragonfly

Blue dragonfly

That camera has been with me ever since.  I take pictures of everything.  I have gotten some very lucky shots, some of which I am enclosing in this blog piece.  I love to photograph my daughter, with her grandparents, with her father, alone – all candid shots.  I hardly ever ask her to pose and when I do, I am usually aiming for something silly, because I will get it.  I love to photograph nature, especially animals and plants.  I enjoy water too.  I really enjoy being an amateur photographer, and it gives me something to do with myself when we travel.  The other important thing about having a camera is that you can control which pictures you appear in.  As I have gotten older I have realized that age has not been kind to me, at least I think not, and I have put on a good bit of weight which I desperately want to get off.  I do not want pictures of me with it on me.  So I am on the business end of the camera, wielding it at everything else.  I very much enjoy posting photos on facebook, too; I enjoy sharing with friends and family.  I love the camera I have, and the next thing I want is a macro lens, since I love taking closeup pictures.  Maybe Santa will bless me this year too!

Michael Jordan

It works better if you stick your tongue out.

If you would like to see some more of my photos, please check out my photo site at http://carahoffman.wix.com/cara-hoffman-photography


Since my child discovered she had an opposeable thumb, she has been crazy about rocks.  I have never seen a child so obsessed with them.  She used to try to put them in her mouth.  When she outgrew that, she begin picking up rocks out of parking lots and driveways.  It never made a difference whether they were attractive or unusual, she just liked plain old gravel rocks.  She begin to stuff her pockets with them.  A lot of our clothes became “stone washed” because I couldn’t manage to keep those rocks out of those pockets and out of the washing machine.  There was constant rattling when loads of laundry were run.  We fished pebbles out of the dryer lint.  When she was old enough to go to school, she filled her backpack with rocks.  They were alway ugly, mousy rocks and they looked all alike to me, but heaven help you if you threw one away.  She would know in a minute and squawk indignantly.  The rocks wore holes in the corners of her backpack.  I understand her love of rocks as I have always loved them myself, but I have never been attracted to ugly rocks, only beautiful ones.  My favorite stone is agate, which turned out to be my zodiac stone.  Who knew?  I attempted to shift her attention from ugly rocks to pretty rocks by giving her a grab bag of smooth, colored tumbled rocks.  Those promptly found their way onto the carpet and into the vacuum cleaner.  We took her to see an exhibition of rocks and minerals, which she adored.  She promptly demanded the purchase of yes, more rocks, from the gift shop.  I have been showing her pictures of attractive rocks and minerals in hopes of sublimating her interests away from gravel rocks, but she still loves them and picks them up anyway.  As far as precious rocks go, her birthstone is the ruby which is lovely.  Her father finally had to forbid her to pick up or bring home any more rocks.  I guess we will make an exception if she finds something rare and beautiful.  Fortunately, as she has gotten older, her interests have turned more to boys and drawing and coloring and music, so the cheerful rattle of the rocks in the washer, dryer and vacuum are pretty much gone.  Maybe one day she will bring home a nifty fossil or a colorful mineral and we can set up a little display for her.  In the meantime, the rock habit seems to have burned itself out for the time being.  We are invaded by rocks no more.

My Life With Beads

I have been making jewelry as a hobby for a long, long time.  Since college.  I don’t even want to tell you how long ago that was. 

I got started by spending time with a friend.  He was a geology student from Columbia and his roomate was dating my best friend.  Therefore, he and I were thrown together quite often as our respective friends spent quality time together. 

He had a little sideline business:  he made strung bead jewelry and sold it at local rock concerts.  He and I would settle down contentedly with frisbees full of beads and bottles full of beer and make necklaces, which he called “snecks”  (snakes).  He would then take them and sell them to drunk college students.  I kept the ones I made.  That was what got me started with the jewelry; then it was just stringing but later I got into beadweaving, wire work, metal work, chain maille and enamelling.  It all started wtih the snecks.

I started dating a guy who played Ultimate Frisbee and that just went hand in hand wtih homemade jewelry.  I always had a tacklebox of beads to put together at all the tournaments that I went to with him.  Unless I had to play.  Which was always a nightmare, and I longed to get my beads out instead. 

I made necklaces and gave them away to my friends amongst the players, and sometimes their children.  Other players did jewelry too and we would swap.  I have an interesting collection of jewelry made by my friends!

When I moved to New Orleans I added lampwork glass beadmaking to my repertoire.  I sucked at it, and I made the ugliest little beads ever but I got to learn the fun of playing with a blowtorch out on my bedroom balcony.  I continued to make jewelry and one of my friends even found me a venue to sell some of it.  I didn’t sell much.  But it was worth a shot. 

There was a bead store there that I started to frequent.  I went to the French Quarter and made a friend who sold old African trade beads, which I bought in abundance.  I also bought antique Mardi Gras beads, which were actually real glass beads from Czecholslovakia.  I have a whole collection in a bin up in my attic.

When I moved to Atlanta for my first real job, I also had my first real money.  I spent thousands of dollars at the local bead stores and hundreds more on lessons.  I learned seed bead weaving, which is still one of my great talents and loves.  I learned peyote stitch first, and by God, I peyoted everything that was vaguely circular that would sit still long enough to stitch it.  I started taking classes from national masters who travelled from city to city teaching.  I met a lot of big names and learned a whole lot of great stuff. 

I moved to a small town in Alabama, to be closer to my parents since I got married and my husband and I planned to start a family.  My jewelry making lay dormant for a couple years, since the nearest bead store was 45 minutes away, and I was occupied with my first house. 

I picked back up the beading with a vengeance when I got pregnant though.  I guess I feared (correctly) that I wouldn’t get to do it much once the baby got there.  I made tons of pieces, both strung and beadweaving. 

After my daughter was born, I picked up a new habit.  I begin to attend the Bead and Button show, which is the largest retail bead market in the world, and which bosts hundreds and hundreds of classes from the finest instructors the world has to offer.  I’ve been every year since A was born.  The trip is a several thousand dollar proposition, since it lasts a week and two weekends, and I fill every single available moment with classes.  I’m not going there to sit around, no way!  At Bead and Button I picked up wirework, metalwork (in a primitive form) and enamelling. 

I also taught myself chain maille from an online store called Urban Maille, run by a wonderful woman named Aislyn who sent out fabulous kits with great instructions.

For several years, I went to many local craft shows and sold my jewelry there.  I even had my own tent and lighting and table setup.  It was big stress getting all set up and broken down, but the part in between where you got to man your booth and sweet talk everyone who came by was a blast!  My husband actually seemed to enjoy it too.  I had to give that up when my partner and I had to go on every other night call because we had to fire our partner, who was a bonafide sociopath.

This last year I went through a beading frenzy and made many dozens of jewelry sets and many more dozens of earrings.  I began to photograph them all and put them up for sale on Etsy, which is an online shopping system for artisan made goods.  I must confess, I have not made all that many sales.  My husband’s friend has been one of my best customers.  I check Etsy every day to see if I have made a sale, and I very rarely have, but I keep checking.  I keep adding new pieces in case something catches someone’s eye. 

I have been enamelling everything that doesn’t melt or catch on fire, and putting the enameled pieces into jewelry. 

Basically I have been a confirmed bead addict for the last twenty seven years, and I have loved every minute of it.  I anxiously await the day that I can retire from my day job and spend all my time making and selling jewelry.


This Pinterest thing is a pretty damn cool idea.  I’ve gotta hand it to whoever came up with it.  Since I’ve joined I have had an absolute blast collecting beautiful and fascinating pins. 

This collection has helped me to see what categories are the most interesting to me.  I create new pinboards every time I accumulate a significant quantity of pins belonging to one category. 

I now have boards for Rocks (beautiful gems and minerals), Flora (amazing plants), Fauna (amazing animals), Jewels (beautiful jewelry, mostly handmade), and Shooz (for my ridiculous shoe addiction).  Then I have the standard Beautiful Things (mostly ceramics, clothing or anything in nature that does not fit flora or fauna), Books worth reading (one thing under there, LOL), Places and Spaces, Products I Love, For the Home, and my favorite:  NO WAY, which contains the truly bizarre and ridiculous. 

I enjoy seeing the pins my friends post and repin frequently.  I subscribe mostly to pinners who love nature and science.  And shoes.  I have amassed a huge collection of stunning shoes.  Lordy, I love shoes!  Louboutin, Alexander McQueen, Hermes, Dolce and Gabbana, Jimmy Choo and many others are featured in brilliant color (or BLACK – I like black) on my Shooz pinboard.  Shoes to drool over.  Shoes to die for. 

I also love my collection of Fauna – beautiful and amazing animals and creatures from all over the globe.  I seem mostly to be fascinated by insects, especially praying mantises.  I seem to be joined in this fetish by Burt somebody, whose science pins I follow intently. 

I find it exciting that I have more and more pinners following me – I love it when I get notice that someone has “liked” or repinned one of my pins.  I wish I got more comments though.  I confess I don’t like or follow recipes or any kind of DIY thing much.  One of the friends I follow is a teacher and she is always posting ideas for kindergarten classroom walls or really cute cupcakes.  Another friend is just married and posts pic after pic of quaint home decor.  I love my beader friends with their beautiful jewelry and beading how-tos.  Another friend is getting married soon and her boards are all about weddings.  Still another seems obsessed with succulent plants and puts up pin after pin of beautiful blue-green cacti and air plants.  Another is completely taken with amazing foodie (and drinkie) type stuff. 

I also notice trends of ecards (seemingly millions), cat and dog “cute” pictures, cute baby pictures, baby clothes and beautiful outfits. 

I love the tribal pictures of people from different cultures. 

This has gotten to be quite the phenomenon!  More and more people are getting involved with Pinterest and there are some serious addicts out there.  I think some of these folks are literally sitting at their computers all day searching for more things to pin.  I will say that Pinterest has helped me to reestablish what my areas of interest really are in a subtle and enjoyable way.

Hubby’s New Choker

When I went to the Bead and Button show, I picked up a pattern for a chain maille Byzantine variant and made a bracelet.  I wanted to make it in sterling but I must say sterling prices have gotten RIDICULOUS.  I made it in copper, with Swarovski crystal rings and it was gorgeous.  I brought it home and DH went BONKERS for this design.  He wanted a choker made out of it.  Bad.  We decided to order two bracelet kits and see if we could make him a choker out of that.  Turns out 2 bracelets do not quite make the circumference of a man’s neck.  I had to order 5 more Swarovski rings; I had enough copper rings left from the other kits to finish up.

The thing got finished last night.  I have seldom ever seen my DH so psyched about something, especially a material sort of something.  He will be the first to tell you, however, that he is in touch with his feminine side.  The choker turned out beautiful.  We had used copper rings and Swarovski rings in Sahara, which offset the copper perfectly.  He put it on and leaped around.  “Take a picture!  Let’s put it on Facebook!  Let’s put it on MY Facebook!”  The man usually looks like he has just played chess with death and he was beaming and bouncing around the room.  We took a bunch of pictures.  I declined to take them with my cell phone, because those pictures SUCK.  I posted the pictures last night and tagged him so they’d go over to his page.  The thing really did turn out gorgeous.  He is now suggesting that I put the piece on ETSY.  “I can’t sell your piece,” I told him.  “Yes you can,” he said.  “You can just make me a new one!  You seem to enjoy making them.”  So now I may be making ANOTHER one.  We’ll see if it sells.

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